Fast forward five months and nearly all of the excitement has dissipated. I've tried on several occasions to write NFL-related posts and couldn't come up with jack. I'm sure part of the reason for my dip in interest has to do with the vast decrease in free time that accompanies the start of medical school. I no longer have time to research stats for fantasy football, read training camp previews from 5 different websites, or play the entire upcoming season on Madden between the start of training camp and opening night.
Yet while I won't be able to do those things, their absence is not at the root of my lack of enthusiasm for the upcoming NFL season. I have tried to figure out exactly what happened in that five month span to cause such a drastic dip in interest and here is what I have come up with.
1) For the first time ever, I'm finding it hard to cheer for my team
|God I hate him|
Consequently, I was fine having a guy whose IQ rivaled Snookie's as my favorite team's quarterback. That all changed however when the news came out that he took advantage of a 20 year old girl in a bathroom stall. A few weeks later, a feature in Sports Illustrated discussed his continued riding of motorcycles without a helmet and a general pattern of douchebaggery throughout the city of Pittsburgh .
Around the same time, the Steelers cut loose of Santonio Holmes who had a breakout season in 2009-2010, but also had a series of legal issues since he joined the team. Despite several rumors of attempted trades, Ben Rapelisberger still remains the QB of the Steelers going into the season. I understand that it's hard for a front office to cut loose of a QB who has brought the organization two Super Bowls, but as a fan I just can't bring myself to cheer for a guy like that.
Ideally, the Steelers would have traded Roethlisberger for a second round pick (or even cut him if it came down to it) and drafted Jimmy Clausen with their second round pick. This coming season I would probably be cheering for a talented team with Byron Leftwich, Dennis Dixon, or Clausen at quarterback. Yeah that team would probably miss the playoffs, but at the end of the day I would have fun cheering the team on to an 8-8 finish, knowing my team's quarterback hadn't violated a girl three years younger than me. Anyways, I've seen the Steelers win two Super Bowls, I could deal with a down year. Instead I'm stuck with Rapelisberger.
2) On the flip side, I'm don't have a team to hate
|Maybe the fact this picture makes me want to vomit is a good thing|
Without an antagonist, the exploits of a protagonist become less significant, and that is the case with the upcoming NFL season. Having a team to cheer against can be just as important as having on to cheer for. That said I do think there are four possible teams that could take the role if the cards fall right the Patriots, the Jets, and the Cowboys. If the Patriots get off to a hot start and win 7 or 8 straight games, they could easily regain their title as public enemy #1. The Cowboys are always a threat to be the NFL's antagonist just based on principle. The Jets have amassed a lot of talent this offseason and clearly have an air of cockiness to their game, and a coach who doesn't do much to filter his thoughts.
The wild card is if Rapelisberger's suspension gets reduced, the Pittsburgh starts winning, and the Steelers instantly become the most hated team in the NFL (see this season really is lose-lose for a Steelers fan).
3) The NFL offseason storylines have become trite
It seems like at the moment 90% of offseason storylines fall into one of three categories: 1) Player X got in trouble with the law 2) Player X is holding out for more money 3) Brett Favre may or may not retire. With regards to the first, honestly I just don't care. Put the person in jail, suspend him a few games, or do nothing (depending on the offense). Just don't spend 25 minutes talking about it on Sportscenter. With regards to the second, the NFL instantly needs to go to slotted salaries for the draft like the NBA. Rookies haven't proven anything and thus don't deserve $50 million over four years. Just like every job, you need to produce results to demand a higher salary. As to the third point will someone just man up and take a shot at Favre's knees during the preseason and end all this nonsense.
4) The aren't as many exciting personalities in the league anymore
All of this said, perhaps when the actual season rolls around my excitement for the NFL will be back at full force. Maybe some team will get desperate at the beginning of the season and offer up a first round pick for Rapelisberger. Maybe the Patriots or the Jets will unify NFL fanbases by taking up the mantle of NFL Public Enemy #1. Maybe the Ochocinco & TO combination will have a trickle down effect and make the league more fun again. Maybe. All I do know is that when it comes to the NFL offseason the thrill is gone.