With the 2014 regular season fast approaching, we figured it made sense to check in on some of the reasons why fans around the world are so excited about this simple game we call football. From division rivals clashing on the field and friends clashing in fantasy football to the pageantry of opening day and holidays spent watching this grand game, there are literally hundreds of reasons to be excited about football.
Let’s look at 15 reasons to be excited about the 2014 NFL season.
1. It’s Football, Duh
It’s more than fine to pass time with Major League Baseball, the World Cup and Lebron-Watch. Heck, all three of these things have been incredibly fun during the offseason. But football is back and we couldn’t be more excited for the return of the most popular sport in North America. From the first preseason game in Canton to the Super Bowl in February, we are afforded the right to watch the single-most amazing sport in the world for a short period of time. Now only if Roger Goodell and Co. could find a way to make the NFL season as long as the NBA season, then we would be on to something.
2. Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers Rivalry
These two teams don’t like one another and it’s not for show or PR purposes. Simply put, if you took a couple 49ers players and put them in an alley late at night with a couple Seahawks players, the results probably wouldn’t be too good. This rivalry stems from Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh in college and has now captured the imagination of football fans all over the country. It doesn’t hurt that San Francisco and Seattle are division rivals and two of the best teams in football. Somehow, we don’t envision these two teams breaking bread after their Thanksgiving Night matchup in Santa Clara. Good old football rivalries, nothing better in the sports world.
3. Fantasy Football is Back
This is a game for those of us who simply couldn’t cut it as real football players. We take to the statistics, the websites and the social media world to formulate some sense of what it would be like to be a real general manager. With bragging rights and money on the line, we begin to root for specific players instead of certain teams. It makes the entire football watching experience that much better, especially when our one team isn’t playing. In reality, fantasy football has transcended the entire NFL world.
4. No More Weekends Spent Watching Horse Racing
Remember when we were excited about California Chrome going for the triple crown in horse racing? Yeah, that was actually a thing at one point this year. Don’t worry, Canada had to turn to curling to fill the time left by the departure of football.
5. Opening Weekend
This should be a legal holiday. Instead it now takes place over the course of three days. But the opening Sunday is filled with excitement as fans of all 32 teams show renewed hope that success is a possibility. For this one day, fans in Buffalo and Oakland can show up without bags over their heads. Yeah I know, that was a crappy pot shot. It is the majestry of the huge flags on the field, the national anthems, the excitement for the early gaames. To be quite honest, I already have chills running up my thighs.
6. Richard Sherman
From playing to the home crowd at CenturyLink in the opener against the Green Bay Packers as the Seahawks return home following a Super Bowl season to going up against Michael Crabtree twice, Madden’s cover guy brings excitement to the game. Whether you like Sherman’s antics or not, he’s a special character and football player. Not since Deion Sanders have wee seen a cornerback, to use an Ed Asner phrase, with “spunk” like this.
7. Reason to Drink Beer
As if Americans needed another reason to drink beer. 50 million cases of beer were consumed world-wide during the Super Bowl this past February. It is a rite of passage for many of us. Drink a few beers, wear your favorite jersey and root on your home-town team. Beer, football and America. That’s a trio that puts Peyton Manning and the Thomas “twins” to shame.
8. Aaron Rodgers and Eddie Lacy
All the sexiness. Rodgers is healthy and finally has that Pro Bowl caliber running back in the backfield. These two didn’t play together much last season, but the idea of them suiting up for 16 games with one another in 2014 has to be akin to Marshall Faulk and Kurt Warner during their heyday.
9. Calvin Johnson
The greatest wide receiver to play this game since Jerry Rice doing his thing with a solid wide receiver opposite him in the form of Golden Tate. If Matthew Stafford returns to form in 2014, we could very well see the first 2,000-yard receiving season for a wide receiver in the history of the league. Eric Ebron’s progression at tight end will also help Johnson rack up the stats. Besides that, Johnson is so damn fun to watch play the game of football.
10. NFL Network Red Zone
With all due respect to other talking heads covering the NFL on Sundays, Scott Hansen is simply on another level. His ability to absolutely dominate the coverage as dozens of things happen at the same time is second to none. The NFL Network personality is simply amazing at what he does. In addition to this, the stunning excitement that comes with multiple games drawing to an end on our television sets on a Sunday afternoon is unparalleled in the sports world.
11. Thursday Night Football
Weekend football starts early every week of the 2014 season. And the games seem to be much improved from a season ago. From opening night between Green Bay and Seattle to Week 2 between Pittsburgh and Baltimore, the Thursday Night Football slate is going to be awesome in 2014.
12. Hotties in Jerseys
Why not? You know that feeling you get when your significant other wears your jersey during game day? Yeah, it’s an amazing thing. If you’re a man and that lovely lady friend is a fan of the NFL, it’s only better. It’s also pretty darn sexy on the ones we love the most.
13. Jim Cornelison (Hopefully)
Cornelison singing the National Anthem prior to sporting events is literally music to our ears. It’s a reminder that some of the best voices in this form of art can be all but forgotten in this era of the Justin Bieber’s of the world. Cornelison, to use a term from Jim Harbaugh, is a “mighty man.”
14. Real NFL News
Once the kids are back in school, they will behave. As simple as that might sound, it really is the case around the NFL. Aren’t you sick and tired of hearing about the latest DUI and domestic violence charges? Don’t you want to get back to reading what actually happens on the football field? One can only hope that this rings true in 2014.
15. Thanksgiving Football
Stuff your faces with food and alcohol. Enjoy the good company of family and friend. Maybe even play a Thanksgiving Day pick-up football game. These are all traditions rooted in our shared history as Americans. During all that good fun, enjoy the three NFL games that promise to make for an exciting holiday. It starts with the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears in what has been a long-standing rivalry in the NFC North. It continues with a hated rivarly in the NFC East in the form of the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys. And it culiminates with the Seattle Seahawks taking on the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium in Northern California. Need we say much more?
Photo: Fox Sports