The False Start is a weekly football column about how we, as consumers, think about the NFL – excuse me, THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE.
PREGAME: Every football fan’s mental state right now – HERE WE GO! HERE WE GO! HERE WE GO!
… AND TWINNNNNNNNSSSSS!
KICKOFF: It’s official. The preseason is (mercifully) over. We made it, everyone. WE MADE IT. Thank God. I’d like to thank everyone involved for getting us through the summer, but mostly the awful figures in sports for giving us something to talk about: Ryan Braun and A-Rod for being liars; Bud Selig for being incompetent; Riley Cooper for reinforcing racists stereotypes (shout out to you, country fans!); the new coach of the Atlanta Hawks, whose name escapes me because it’s the freakin’ Atlanta Hawks, for setting the bar high while getting popped for a DUI before ever coaching a game (KUDOS!); everything Aaron Hernandez; and Aaron Hernandez’s angel dust dealer.
Because of all of you, I didn’t watch one pitch from the Little League World Series. Good thing, because I don’t believe in crazy concepts like the purity of sport.
… But pay the kids, and I’m all in.
FUMBLE: Hope. That’s what Week 1 represents. Today is a wonderful day, for there is hope in every fan base that the 2013 NFL season could be the year, THEIR YEAR (except the Jets fans, of course). Soak things in. Let it settle, because, for today, there are no winners or losers, no legacies to consider, no rookies who are clearly busts, and no coach on the chopping block.
… Again, besides Jets coach Rex Ryan, of course.
UNDERNEATH THE PILE: ESPN’s Adam Schefter … Giddy.
… Can’t stop, won’t stop.
OPENING DRIVE: I’m writing this a mere few hours before the Denver Broncos will host the defending Super Bowl champion, Baltimore Ravens. No matter what happens, I’m well aware that one of two scenarios will unfold:
1. The Broncos will win – rather convincingly, maybe even in a blowout – resulting in the media chattering, “THEIR TIME IS NOW! THEY SET THE BAR! SUPER BOWL OR BUST.”
2. The Ravens will eke out an impressive road victory – resulting in the media chattering, “DON’T SLEEP ON THE RAVENS. NEVER COUNT OUT THE HEART OF A CHAMPION!”
To that I’d reply: THEY DON’T HAND OUT TROPHIES IN SEPTEMBER. Honestly, both of these narratives are crazy. So much football is ahead of us, just remember that while consuming way too much sports talk radio, reading Internet columns, and pretending to care what your boss thinks about his team’s chances this year. All null and void until January.
… Nothing matters, everything matters. Does that make sense?
PICK-SIX: I love how prevalent Dr. James Andrews has become in the life of a sports fan. And by “prevalent,” I mean dangerous. Seriously, his cryptic comments about Robert Griffin’s knee put the entire country into shock. That dude is like The Oracle character in “The Matrix.” HE TELLS YOU WHAT YOU NEED TO HEAR.
TOUCHDOWN: We kill players for parsing their words with “Athlete Speak” (e.g. “We just have to execute better!). So conversely, let’s take a moment and give a shout out to Bills wideout Stevie Johnson for saying what everyone is already well-aware of: The Patriots do not have anyone in their secondary that can cover him. Or, really, any competent receiver in the NFL – excuse me, THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE. It’s why we’re all secretly frightened of EJ Manuel.
Of course, the Patriots, as they’re wont to do, viscously fired back. Said Aqib Talib: “I don’t watch, like, NFL Network. I’m a basketball fan. My TV is pretty much on NBA TV.”
… Also, speaking of Johnson, this feels worth re-evaluating:
GOAL LINE STAND: To Rex Ryan and the Jets. The end is near, dear friend. But before looking forward, let’s look backward. The following is an excerpt from the Wikipedia entry about the “Butt Fumble,” and it is everything you need to know about Gang Green: “The TV cameras found Rex Ryan on the sideline exclaiming, ‘Un-[expletive]-believable!’ Some Jets fans left MetLife Stadium; others booed and chanted for backup quarterback Tim Tebow to take over. By the two-minute warning before halftime, the score was 35–0, and the stadium loudspeakers played “It Ain’t Over ’til It’s Over.” Fireman Ed left the game before halftime and he would retire his role as the team’s unofficial mascot following the game.”
… Read that last sentence again. Now, take a second and ponder this age old question: define success? To me, if I’m a Jets fan and Mark Sanchez indirectly ended Fireman Ed’s run, the most insufferable person to ever cheer for anything, not just in the realm of sports but in life, then, I’m feeling pretty good about his ginormous contract extension after all.
HALFTIME SPEECH: Here’s what Tom Brady told reporters this week about his young receiving corps, and his three-year-old son: “I’m not the most patient guy to begin with, so that’s something that I’m working on. But you understand that there’s a learning curve, and there’s things that are going to come up that, you know. Look, some guys haven’t experienced the things that I’ve experienced, so you try to talk about.
“ … But sometimes that’s what I do with my 3-year-old, too, and he doesn’t listen, either.”
I have 11 – yes, 11! – nieces and nephews. Some are floating around the age of 3, and the only thing I discuss adjusting with them is their diapers, because, again, they’re 3-years-old. Sometimes, like Brady, I do compare my friends to my nieces and nephews, but this is typically after one destroys far too much alcohol, gets shatterbanged, and pees their bed.
… Oy. Still, what did I tell you? HOPE. For today, THIS COULD BE THE YEAR, OUR YEAR.
FINAL SCORE: God bless the AFC East – Patriots 38, Bills 17.
Follow Ryan Hadfield on Twitter @Hadfield__