Posts Tagged ‘rookies’

The NFL Version of American Idol

August 12, 2013

For those of you whose main gripe about the game of football is being ignored for the many months that comprise the NFL season, you have no doubt noticed that there is a definite progression in your Beloved Football Fan’s obsession with the game.  Of course, there is a certain luminous joy in September for the season opener, leveling off thereafter to a sort of base-level fanaticism that begins to escalate during the playoffs, then culminates in what may seem to you like over-heated fervor for the February Super Bowl.

But if you’ve been tuned in to the first couple of preseason games, you may have noticed that your Beloved Fan is – well, perhaps a bit less enthusiastic than you might have expected.  And you may have wondered why.  Could it be that he (or she) is finally getting tired of this silly game?

Probably not.

The more likely cause is that preseason games simply have less meaning.  If you lose, it won’t go on your record, so there’s nothing actually on the line with preseason football.  For the teams, that is.

But there’s plenty on the line for a whole lot of individual players.  NFL preseason football is the sports version of American Idol.  You won’t see the Big Names play a lot during preseason.  They’re too valuable to risk getting them hurt.

But the rookies – and even some veterans – not so much.  The thing is, there’s a whole bunch of guys who you’ll see playing their hearts out in preseason, but who haven’t actually made the team yet. Because NFL preseason is, just as with American Idol, audition time.

So while it may not mean a lot for the team itself, for those guys who are auditioning, after all the years of blood, sweat and tears it’s taken to get to this moment, the grit and determination to have gotten this close to realizing their dream, preseason football could well determine their entire futures.

That’s drama.  If you’re a fan of those overcoming-the-odds TV movies, this should be right up your alley.  Only this is the real thing.  Not that hokey ‘reality TV’ stuff.  But real reality.

Pressure, pressure, pressure: if you fumble or drop a pass . . . if you make a spectacular catch, or shoot through a hole and sprint twenty yards for a touchdown . . . Quite literally, your life – or at least the only life you’ve ever wanted since you were six years old – is now on the line.

Now, that makes watching preseason football a bit more interesting, yes?  So go ahead: put some skin in the game.  Pick an auditioner.  A rookie.  A vet trying for a comeback.  A guy who’s almost made it before, and who’s trying again . . . maybe for the last time.

Don’t worry: the announcers will let you know who these guys are.  “Butch is looking to fill the last slot at middle linebacker.”  Stuff like that.

Or ask your Beloved Fan.

We picked a guy in the August 4th Hall of Fame Game.  He’s been around since 2011, but he’s looking to hold on as a Dallas Cowboys running back behind starter DeMarco Murray.  The competition is stiff: Lance Dunbar and Joseph Randle have their eyes on the same position.  The rap on Tanner is that he’s not initially explosive.  Still, he rushed ten times for 59 yards and scored a touchdown.

Good, yes.  But – good enough?  Will he be there in September when the NFL season kicks off for real?

That is, will his dream come true.

Or not.

You only get to see how the drama plays out if you watch the games.

Oh, and to give you a step up in the understanding-the-game category, we’ve just finished digitizing our paperback, Football is for Lovers, which, as the name implies, gives you the basics of American football along with some helpful relationship tips.  It’s trés cheap, so if you have a kindle, you might want to check it out on Amazon.

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