Hey guys, it’s almost football season! You know how I know? Because I went my to neighborhood Wegmans and there they were, the first batch of 2014 football previews! Athlon! Lindy’s! The Sporting News! All of them right there for my consumption with rosters that will be horrifically out of date by the time the season starts, and predictions that are safer than Jay Leno eating a mayonnaise and cottage cheese sandwich! Did you know the Raiders are gonna suck this year, too? Whooda thunk it?
But you know what? For all the obvious flaws with these magazines, I fucking love them. There’s a good chance that finding these on the newsstands and freaking out was a huge part of your childhood. Here was a huge book of football information right there for your disposal. You could bring it into to class those last few weeks of second grade, show it off to your friends and let them know your football knowledge could totally beat up their football knowledge. And then, of course, you’re teacher would take it from you, and it would be hell waiting till the end of the day to get it back. Then, when you’re teacher finally gave it back to you, you’d clutch it it tightly to your bosom on the bus ride home like it was your child. “Oh, I’m so sorry, I promise I’ll never let you out of my sight ever again! It’s okay, it’s okay. Daddy’s here.”
Then, you get older and you realize the information in these isn’t really all that illuminating, and you could probably come up with similar predictions without putting too much thought into it. Also, the inevitable feature story on current trends in the NFL is never particularly interesting. One year it’s, “Hey guys, did you notice they threw the ball a lot more last season?” The year after that: “Oh hey, they started running the ball again. Neat.” Not exactly the kind of stuff you have to spend weeks in a football laboratory to figure out.
And yet, even as I’ve somewhat outgrown them, I’ll always love seeing the annual football previews on the newsstands for the first time each year. So what if there’s a million different websites with more insightful information? It’s a sign of the summer starting, and a sign that the dreaded offseason is just a bit closer to being mercifully over. So keep it up, Athlon and Lindy’s. Keep making football previews before the Stanley Cup is over, and keep giving football obsessed 8-year-olds something to freak out over and distract them from their teacher’s boring lecture about cursive writing or the water cycle. You’re doing the Lord’s work.