The NFL season begins tonight with “Thursday Night Football.” Amazingly, mentions of Thanksgiving and Christmas aren’t far behind.
You ask, where has the time gone? But for football fans, this weekend couldn’t have come fast enough. There’ll be five months of “Who’ll win the Super Bowl? What does Vegas say? Can the Broncos repeat? Sup with Cam? Sup with the Panthers? Who are league contenders? The ‘Rookie of the Year.’ Game changers.” And the most annoying, “Who’s on your Fantasy team?”—a personal opinion.
For the NFL, the pressure is on. Will their first weekend match up of games match last weekend’s great line up of opening weekend college games? Will it conjure up as much excitement?
Thursday opens with the Carolina Panthers versus the Denver Broncos, the Super Bowl matchup from February, but without Denver quarterback Peyton Manning who retired earlier this year. “Monday Night Football” presents two games. First up is the Pittsburgh Steelers playing Washington in our nation’s capital, followed by the Los Angeles Rams versus the San Francisco 49ers, whose backup quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, is trending heavily for refusing to stand during the national anthem before team games. How many viewers will tune in just to see Kaepernick not stand, who will join him and how the Niner fans will respond?
Even President Barack Obama was asked to discuss this issue earlier in the week at a summit in China.
“He’s exercising his constitutional right to make a statement,” Obama said, addressing the issue. “I think he cares about some real, legitimate issues that have to be talked about.”
Regarding football issues, Tony Romo, the Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback is injured and disabled again, already, as is third-year QB Teddy Bridgewater of the Minnesota Vikings, both hurt during the preseason.
To the delight of New York Jets fans, Tom Brady is out for the first four games of the season as a result of “Deflategate.” They’ll play with Jimmy Garoppolo behind center. Whether our New York teams like the Jets benefit from this development will be determined solely by the wins and losses applied to those four games, because the Jets only go head to head with New England later in the season after Brady’s return.
The Jets aren’t getting many breaks either in scheduling. After Sunday’s home game against the Cincinnati Bengal, they head up to Buffalo for a Thursday game against the Bills. Buffalo beat them twice last season.
Five out of their first eight games are against 2015-16 playoff teams. The Jets, who missed the playoffs by one game last season (10-6), are expected to make them this year. They’re a win-now team, a balanced mix of old and young guys, according to the Jets’ second-year coach Todd Bowels.
“It’s a tricky thing,” he said of the veterans and younger players. “They’ve made plays in practice. They made plays in the preseason. They’ve earned their right to be on the team. They showed it every day at practice. They showed it in games. You’ve got to reward guys that do that, and hopefully they continue to grow and get better.”
In football, it’s also important that the other teams don’t.