Posted on: September 5, 2012 6:08 am

And So It Begins - the 2012 NFL Season

For fans of the NFL, the offseason can be particularly brutal.  Once the stadium lights are shut off and the cameras have gone, we mourn the end of a season, feeling the first symptoms of withdrawal.  We commence the countdown of months, days and hours until the first kickoff of the next season. In the process, we satiate our need by watching replays of the games from the past, build our warboards for the draft and above all, realize we no longer have an excuse not the clean out the garage.  We might follow players on Twitter and Facebook just to keep that connection.  Read and re-read reports from the Combine, the draft and training camp. 

In less than twenty-four hours, the party in Arlington, Texas will begin. Opening day of the 2012 NFL season will be ushered in with the trumpets from heaven and a chorus of angels in the splendor that is known as Cowboy Stadium. With the first kickoff, flashes of light will erupt, as if the very stars from the galaxy came down to bear witness.  And fans, in jubilant proclamation will shout out, "it's here, it's finally here."

Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating just a bit, but you have to admit, Mariah Carey has one heck of a voice. 

NFL 2012 will be a bittersweet season for me.  As a Steelers fan, I will miss the smile of Hines Ward as he gets up from a play.  And to no longer hear James Farrior name be mentioned and missing Aaron Smith on the line. Time marches on though and with that positives advance.  Which diamond in the rough will shine this year?  What play will leave me pondering? Of course, my ponderings aren't limited to just the Steelers.

The New York Giants come into this season defending their crown and are the team to beat this year.  The watch is on to see how long they can go before they are defeated and who will be the team to do it this year. My recommendation is lose a game early, get it over and done with and get rid of that one distraction.  Giants seem to do better when they're the underdog, the team that might not be perfect to garner the attention of the media.  The David against the Goliath in a division where their nemesis have been perceived as trying to by championships.  They quietly got the work done last season.  Can they do it again this season though?

And on the other side of the coin, you have the Dallas Cowboys, who are faced with their own distractions.  There's no doubt that quarterback Tony Romo is frustrated with the questions about the window of opportunity closing.  And of course there will be the attention paid to wide receiver Dez Bryant, unfortunately more for what he's doing off the field than on it.  Have the Cowboys front office done enough to beef up their defense to help the team get over that hurdle? 

Focus has been on the Jacksonville Jaguars this offseason, mostly due to the hold out of Maurice Jones-Drew.  It's not likely that the attention will lift anytime soon as we watch to see how last season's top rusher will perform.  If his numbers drop, chances are great that analysts will point to the hold out as the reason.  Still, in a way, I'm pulling for the Jags to have a decent season.  I like coach Mike Mularkey.  I believe, given time, he can acquire the talent to get the team to the playoffs.  But it's easier to pull the trigger than it is to have patience to grow a team. 

One wonders what the direction of the Oakland Raiders will be now that Al Davis is no longer with us.  It was always believed that the late owner was holding the team back with his hands-on approach in ownership.  I'd like to see Terrelle Pryor get his shot and do well.  Pryor made his name as the number one prospect coming out of Jeannette High School.  I like to see kids that graduated from the same school I went to, make good.  Pryor is no exception.  Still, one can't argue that the Raiders have no talent.  It's just a matter of finding the right magic to make it work. 

If there is any team that is facing distractions this season, it will definitely be the Saints.  No one will argue that they, as a team will be under a microscope with both the press and the fans, watching to see how they rebound from the scandal and if "bountygate" was the reason for their past success.  They have two options, shoot everyone the bird and come out with a "we'll show you" attitude or succumb to the pressure.  I'll say it's the former.  Quarterback Drew Brees is nothing but a passionate and consumate leader who has the ability to rally his troops in the face of adversity. 

One thing I do know, that as with each season it will be electrifying and disappointing on the road to the playoffs.  The days of manicured nails and quiet Sunday afternoons are now gone until February.  And if one is disappointed that the window of opportunity to clean out the garage has gone, well, there's always the bye.


Posted on: February 10, 2010 5:46 am

And Cabin Fever Begins.

Yesterday, the Saints did come marching in.  Through New Orleans, in a Superbowl celebration when the football team brought the Lombardi trophy to a town that, until this year, had yet to see it enshrined there.  Not seen were the once famous paper bags, now put away forever, along with the nickname the “Aint’s”.  Mardi Gras came early for the city that started it’s celebration Sunday night on Bourbon Street and continued on through the next day.  Across the country, Saints fans were jubilant.  On Facebook, a picture of  Jimmy Buffet was posted, posing with the Lombardi and author Anne Rice wrote how she was wishing that she, too, was there amongst the other fans.  No doubt, there were a lot of folks who once called New Orleans home, were having the same feelings, wanting to be there, to join the celebration.  I understand that desire, all too well. 

On the flip side, fans of the Indianapolis Colts will still be feeling the sting of having watched their team get to and fall short of bringing the trophy back to Indianapolis.  Hopes dashed and expectations, built on the hype of the possibility of their quarterback being crowned the greatest ever, fell oh so short.  It would be a bitter pill whose taste will linger for a little while, at least until next season.  I’m still remembering the taste of that pill from Superbowl XXX, which had been served, ironically, the same way that this years Colts received theirs. 

As for me, I was a neutral observer.  When asked who I picked to win the Superbowl, my response was for the Colts, of course.  Not because they were an AFC team, not because it was a chance for a quarterback to cement his legacy (let’s face it, Manning with all his records cemented it when he won his first trophy). For me, I was pulling for the Colts for the sake of maintaining harmony in the household.  After all, with my husband being a Colts fan, it’s an unspoken rule that we pull for the others team when ours aren’t in it just so things don’t end up flying at each others head.  Not to say, I wouldn’t have been happy for a Saints win, just that well, you know, you want your spouse to be happy, right?

Amazingly though, Superbowl 44 became a growing and learning process for me.  No, I gave up brooding about the Steelers not being the ones in the game back in the 80’s.  My disappointment ended a week after they were eliminated and the playoffs began.  Nope, that wasn’t what I learned. 

1)    I learned that I could be very empathetic.  When it was apparent that the Saints won, I didn’t take the opportunity to remind my husband that the Steelers had two Superbowl rings under Ben, to Manning’s 1. Instead, I just went to sleep, knowing that my husband went online to vent. 

2)    My husband took the loss a hell of a lot better then I did in Superbowl 30.  I remember ranting through the house about O’Donnell somehow thinking that Larry Brown was a Steelers receiver, not just at the time, but for days.  Since Peyton’s interception, not one word has been mentioned about it. 

3)    I found another reason to be very proud of my daughter.  At 21, my daughter professes no desire to watch football, though she does from time to time ask about a game.  Last year, she told me she was pulling for the Cardinals to win, because of Arizona being the underdogs and their history.  This year, on her way back to school, she advised me she was pulling for the Saints.  Having professed that day she was not interested in watching the Superbowl, it caught me by surprise when she called home to say “that was a pretty interception, wasn’t it”.  No, the pride didn’t come from her actually watching the game, but her learning how to rub it in when the team she pulls for wins.  Even my husband couldn’t help but smile at that.

While the number 44 happened to be a magical number for the New Orlean Saints, their winning the Superbowl brought to home one sad fact.  It officially ended the season and everything is now just a memory.  Though Saints fans will continue to celebrate the victory and watch and rewatch game highlights and Colts fans will turn the channel when game highlights are shown again for the 20,000th time.  The rest of us will still be complaining about the stupid decision to have the Pro Bowl right before the Superbowl and we’ll be looking at who was let go and picked up in free agency and why it was a stupid (or great) move.  Several fans have already started their mock draft and developing their own “war rooms”.  We’ll be anxiously waiting the Combine and draft day, then mini camps and try to get our fix through stations like NFL Network and ESPN until pre-season. 

As for me and mine, well, once again, our garage needs to be reorganized. 

Enjoy Saints fan, you deserve it (now burn those paperbags)…and for the rest of us, here’s to next season.

Category: NFL
Posted on: September 5, 2008 6:05 am

2008-09 NFL Projections - NFC South

I’m wondering, while I watch tv, if I’m going to once again see Jake Delhomme hawking Bojangle chicken.  Don’t get me wrong, Bojangles has good chicken for a fast food chicken joint.  But it was kind of funny seeing the Carolina Panthers quarterback throwing a box of chicken on a football field, when he should have been throwing a football.  Maybe that’s the real reason for his elbow surgery?

NFC South:

#4) – Atlanta Falcons – this team has been hurting since the loss of Michael Vick and the subsequent rats abandoning ship.  The pickup of Matt Ryan was definitely a plus, but let’s face it, this kid is a rookie in a division that three other teams have playoff potential.

#3) – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – I was originally going to place this team 2nd in the division, however, I noticed they just acquired Sean Mahan from the Pittsburgh Steelers.  If no one noticed, Mahan was on that Steelers offense that allowed Roethlisberger to get sacked, how many times?  Okay so they have a good defense, however, the question will be, can Tampa Bay keep it’s quarterbacks from getting hurt?

#2) – New Orlean Saints – This team was going to be 3d however, I had to bump them up seeing the new acquisition to the Bucs.  I know, how can I put this team so low with the likes of Drew Brees, Marquis Colston and Reggie Bush, one word, defense.  So I see a duel between #2 and #3 in this division.  Don’t get discouraged, this team has the possibility of picking up the wild card.

#1) – Carolina Panthers – Jake Delhomme is healthy, Julius Peppers promises to be a beast on defense.  Jeff Otah definitely helps the oline and Johnathan Stewart is going to be a fantasy football freaks dream. 

NFC South Division Champion – Carolina Panthers
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com