Until only a few days ago, I was not missing the NFL. As an armchair fan of many sports, I was highly enjoying what the summer was throwing at me. The FIFA World Cup turned out to be one of the competition’s most exciting editions, Wimbledon featured the surprising early exits of Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal and the Williams sisters, and the first half of the Tour de France saw two of the pre-race favorites crash out, to say nothing about the whole LeBron saga. There was just enough to almost make one forget that the NFL had downed tools, that the Draft and free agency had been and gone, and that, in just under a month’s time, the pre-season will be starting – in itself little to get very excited about.
But, now, that melancholy of waiting is starting to set in. The World Cup trophy is now in Germany, the Wimbledon grass is re-growing, LeBron has returned to Cleveland, and while the peloton is still snaking its way through France, the loss of some of its leaders has somewhat undermined the whole thing. I feel I am now quite ready for the return of that time of year when one gets very excited about what the new season will bring, only to see these hopes dashed after only a few weeks (I cannot help this negativity – I am a Rams fan and am very used to it).
As tough as this time of year – this cryogenic suspended animation that is the off-season – is for the casual fan, it is so much worse for writers. Imagine having to keep regularly writing about an activity that is currently shrouded in inactivity. Writers have to continue churning out interesting pieces when there is nothing of any interest going on whatsoever. We had the excitement of the draft, the intrigue of free agency, and the fleeting moments of exhilaration during OTA’s, but, having scaled these first category climbs, instead of sprinting to the finish line, we are now riding at a frustratingly slow pace (sorry, I have been watching A LOT of cycling). It is even worse for amateur writers who have little access to the limited amount of breaking news items and who need to consult the depths of their imagination simply to come up with their weekly quota of five hundred words. Spare a thought for those of us as well who are located about 4,500 miles away from the city where the team we write about is based. It is a tough life.
It is an amusing exercise to look at the pieces appearing in the multitude of NFL blogs available on the Internet just to see how these writers are coping with this seemingly eternal period of downtime. You will find ridiculously early predictions (even mock drafts!!), player comparisons, trivial debates, etc. At Ramblin’ Fan, for example, my colleagues are currently engaged – with their typical passion and intelligent writing, of course – in discussions about the All-NFC West roster (an interesting pursuit that is serving to remind Rams Nation once again of how uncompetitive our team was within our division last season), a piece on how Sam Bradford will fare in 2014, and even a reaction to LeBron’s decision. All interesting stuff and, as I said, written with the ardent insight that characterizes the site, but, following a general pattern in the absence of current news, it is all either reviewing or previewing. There are also a lot of lists as well: Top Five this, Five Players who that. I am very guilty of this myself: my last article featured Adam Archuleta! Adam Archuleta!!!!! To dig up memories of one of the biggest free agent busts to come out of St Louis shows the extent of this desperation. It is, in fact, a symptom of withdrawal, and we urgently need our players to take the field once again, not just to have something to write about, but to motivate us as individuals.
Every now and then, during these searches, you will find the odd article that has started off as a tenuous idea which the writer has managed to stretch out in an attempt to, at least, meet his or her weekly obligation. It is a triumph for adversity.
But this article, of course, is not one of them.
Is it September yet?
Tags: St. Louis Rams