At long last, NFL football has returned to American television and today is opening Sunday. I could not be happier. It was a long summer of reruns, but the Olympics helped bridge the gap between the end of the last college basketball season and today. Now my Sundays will be spoken for through New Year’s.
Like many NFL fans, I have a pretty standard Sunday routine that I follow. First, I never plan anything on Sunday, unless it happens before noon, that is—I need at least an hour to “set up” for the 1:00 kickoffs. Second, I multi-task during each commercial break and do my weekly chores—washing clothes, taking out the trash, feeding pets and performing other equally banal activities. Finally, I screen all my phone calls. And trust me, only emergency calls get returned. The rest have to wait until halftime or the next major stoppage.
Please keep this last rule in mind if you ever try to reach me on Sunday. A text message is an acceptable alternative and I assure you my response time will be faster.
The first half has ended in all the early games and I can tell it’s going to be an exciting season. Rookie quarterback Robert Griffin, III is leading the Washington Redskins to pay dirt against the New Orleans Saints. He just threw his first touchdown pass, an 88-yard beauty to Pierre Garcon. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady became the 14th player in NFL history to pass for 40,000 yards in his career. He also surpassed John Elway for all-time touchdowns and now ranks fifth.
Things are really heating up.
Of course, my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers don’t play until tonight in primetime, so I get to spend my entire day in agony as I anticipate a tough match. We’re facing the Denver Broncos and their new Super Bowl MVP/future Hall of Fame/freaking awesome quarterback, Peyton Manning. These guys have a lot of weapons and Peyton is making a comeback, so I have no idea what to expect. I’m optimistic, but also nervous as hell.
And that’s something I love about NFL football. It gets into your blood and drives your emotions. It gets your adrenaline pumping and your hair standing on end. And best of all, it gives you hope because truly, anything can happen. It’s never over until that final clock shows nothing but goose eggs.
To spice things up even more during the NFL season, I participate in an annual fantasy football league with some buddies for a small, winner-take-all cash prize. You may find this a little nerdy, but it adds a layer of excitement, I assure you. For those of you unfamiliar with fantasy football, here’s how it works.
You or a friend set up a free league at one of the big sports websites like ESPN or NFL.com. Invite some friends, adjust some settings and viola! Your new league is born. On draft day, the group meets live online to select the best possible players at key positions. Everyone begins with the same roster structure—normally a QB, several RBs and WRs, a TE, a K and a Defense, plus some bench spots. You take turns cherry-picking from the best positional players in the league and build the best possible roster. Each week, you face off against other teams in your league. When your players perform well, they score points for you; when they suck or get hurt, they can lose points for you. Once the smoke clears in each weekly battle, the victor is the player with the most total points; the other guy is the loser.
What this means is I now have a reason to watch a lot of different games with great anticipation. I have players all over the place. The Redskins-Saints game is a perfect example. I’m pulling for the Redskins and currently, they are winning. But my starting fantasy quarterback is Drew Brees of New Orleans. I have to cheer for him to throw completions and hopefully touchdowns, while also hoping the Redskins can stay one step ahead of him. Drama, suspense… it’s got it all!
An hour from now, the plot will thicken even more when Carolina and Tampa Bay kick off. The starting wide receiver for each team—in this case Steve Smith and Vincent Jackson, respectively—is on my fantasy roster and will be starting for me today. So I need them both to catch passes and score as often as possible. The down side is that I pull for the Panthers and thus don’t want Mr. Jackson to hurt them too badly. It’s like some kind of soap opera, to be sure.
Welcome back to my life and my television, NFL. I adore you while you’re here and miss you like crazy when you’re gone, so I’m ecstatic the season has just begun. And as long as the Steelers win, I trust we will have smooth sailing ahead…
I am a huge NFL football fan and must warn my readers that this is likely the first of many NFL-related posts to come. Granted, these may not interest my international folks, but I cannot resist since I have been an American football fan from a very early age. Please forgive me if you find these boring and feel free to check out one of my non-football posts instead.
After sitting out for a year and undergoing a number of neck surgeries, Peyton Manning returned to the field as starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos. And in his first two preseason outings, it looked as if his skills had grown very rusty.
Then the Broncos met up with one of the best defenses in football, the San Francisco 49ers, and everything changed.
In only three series, Manning shredded the San Fran defense, completing 10 of 12 passes for 122 yards and two touchdowns. One of Manning’s touchdown passes even came moments after being levelled by linebacker Parys Haralson.
In other words, it looks like Peyton’s neck is doing fine and that his skills are heating up just in time for the start of the regular season.
As a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, this doesn’t bode well since we inevitably play the Broncos every year, or so it seems. And while I have a lot of respect for Peyton Manning and his mile-high team, I sincerely hope my Steelers can shut him down this year.
Only time will tell, of course, but I can say one thing for certain: it’s going to be one hell of a great season!
I’m no scientist and I never pretend to know everything about a given subject. What I do know, however, is that I possess a very vivid imagination. And right now it has been captured by stem cells and their inevitable role in our future.
This was prompted by an article about the evolution of performance-enhancing drugs in sports. Stem cells are already being used to repair major injuries in superstars like Denver Broncos’ QB Peyton Manning and Oakland A’s pitcher Bartolo Colon. But someday—maybe even someday soon—they could be used to enhance performance. Furthermore, they would be almost impossible to detect.
Too bad for Lance Armstrong, who was recently stripped of his seven Tour de France titles for doping.
I tossed HGH (Human Growth Hormone) into the mix because it is sometimes used to make stem cell treatment more effective. And it obviously works because both of the athletes I mentioned are back up and running. Colon is serving a 50-game ban right now, but Manning is already on the field playing pre-season NFL football.
Now shift gears for a second and think about genetics. The human genome has been mapped and scientists know more than ever about what makes us tick. It’s easy enough for them to pinpoint the DNA that makes us tall or healthy or prone to disease. Engineering these areas could produce perfect human specimens, at least in a genetic sense.
There is still no accounting for taste.
Roll all of this together and you can easily see where I’m going with this: immortal humans are coming. It is only a matter of time until genetically engineered people are born—or transferred—into stronger, longer-lasting bodies and then live indefinitely. Mark my words.
Of course, this service will only be available to the wealthiest among us, at least at first. Yes, that means Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian could be with us for a very long time. Eventually, though, regular folks would get their chance, but this would have to be closely regulated and limited. I mean, you can’t make everyone immortal or there simply wouldn’t be enough parking.
That’s when you would see crowds of people filling stadiums not to audition for “American Idol,” but to start the interview process for immortality procedures: stem-cell reinforcement for limbs and organs; genetic therapy for DNA-related repairs; and maybe a nice colonic, just to clean out the pipes. Hell, you could probably use it to conceive the perfect child, which in itself seems kind of creepy.
The interview process would be long, grueling and almost impossible to pass because of how selective it would have to be. Only the strongest or most interesting or talented or pretty or intelligent or whatever would make it to the final rounds. And even then only a handful would be selected for the “procedure.”
Once this happened, the world would become a strange mix of regular people—deteriorating at a normal pace—and relative immortals—their lives extended and traits enhanced. Competition for jobs would be brutal as these people with genetically heightened intelligence beat out everyone else. And if an immortal conceived a child with a “normal” mate, its genetic makeup would still be more evolved than regular folks.
Things could get really confusing. As if they weren’t confusing enough right now.
Whether we like it or not, stem cells will be at the center of much medical advancement to come. And this may sound like science fiction, but I truly believe it will be science “fact” before we know it: immortality will someday be within our reach, or at least our kids’ reach.
In the meantime, I think I’ll just kick back with a delicious HGH milkshake and hope for the best. Cheers!