When the Pittsburgh Steelers take the field against the Tennessee Titans tonight, you won’t find anyone happier than me.
I’m not a big Steelers or Titans fan, nor do I have any money riding on the game. But as soon as the whistle blows and the ball is kicked off, I can breathe easy for the first time in months.
Not because the 2009 NFL season is beginning, but because the 2009 NFL offseason has ended.
Don’t get me wrong — I love lying around Sundays watching football and nursing hangovers. But I will be infinitely more excited to put that wretched stretch of February through August behind me.
See, though the NFL is clearly the most popular sport in the U.S., it also has the shortest season. That in turn means it also has the longest offseason (I’m smart like that). That’s where the conflict arises: Sports media assume football fans want NFL content, but there’s nothing meaningful going on in football in mid-June.
That also means we get 20-minute segments on SportsCenter about Chad Ochocinco tweets in the middle of July. And there is almost nothing (save the Minnesota Twins’ wasted 2009 season) that bothers me more right now than athletes tweeting.
So instead of focusing on baseball or the NHL and NBA playoffs, a good chunk of sports programming gets devoted to Dont? Stallworth’s manslaughter case. I don’t need to listen to talking heads speculate as to how that will affect his career; the man killed someone with his car while intoxicated. Game over for him; end of story.
On the lighter side, does anyone really even care about T.O. anymore?
It wasn’t enough for him to be released by Dallas and move to “North America’s team.” Apparently just making news for occasionally running his mouth wasn’t enough for Owens, because he got his own reality show, “The T.O. Show.”
It would be one thing if the show took an in-depth look at the private life of a star NFL wide receiver. Unfortunately, it’s just a carbon copy of “The Hills,” except the main character has a shinier head. But that’s not even the worst of the offseason.
As much as I hate to bring it up, there’s no ignoring the fact that ESPN’s sickeningly overblown coverage of a certain quarterback who would not retire got old after two weeks. By the beginning of July or so, I didn’t think the “He Who Shall Not Be Named in Wisconsin” saga could get any more nauseating.
Of course, I was wrong. By the time No. 4 ended his eternal wishy-washiness and decided to play for my Vikings, I didn’t even care anymore. ESPN raved about how the Vikings immediately became bona fide Super Bowl contenders, but they overlooked one little thing: it’s the Vikings.
They’re guaranteed to screw it up. Trust me, Gary Anderson still haunts my dreams.
Possibly the most disgusting thing about the whole affair? When Mr. Wrangler Jeans was driving up I-494 to his first practice, there was a helicopter following the car, broadcasting live footage to local TV stations.
I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or throw up.
Then I was forced to endure hours of former Giant Plaxico Burress’ trial coverage and did in fact, throw up. Not because he’s apparently an idiot who can’t even hide a gun in his pants correctly. I can deal with that.
But after an hour or so of SportsCenter on any given day between mid-July and late August, I knew Burress was charged with reckless endangerment and criminal possession of a weapon and that he accepted a plea bargain for two years in prison. I didn’t really care, but ESPN was on, so I didn’t have a choice.
That brought me back to that extensive coverage about Stallworth. I knew he was sentenced to 30 days in prison for second-degree DUI manslaughter and served just 24 of them. I even watched him walk out of prison (thanks again to ESPN).
Wait a minute. Burress gets two years for illegally owning a gun, while Stallworth kills a man, I repeat, kills a man, and serves 24 days? NFL offseason coverage, you are toying with my sense of justice.
See, aside from things that could directly impact my fantasy football team in the fall, I don’t want to hear about the NFL when the NFL is not in session. I don’t want to hear about how Steve McNair was shot dead because he had not one, but two mistresses.
I don’t want to hear about Shawne Merriman choking Tila Tequila, no matter how much it makes me smile. These things just make me sad and ultimately, most of them have little bearing on the actual season.
So please, ESPN, Fox Sports, all of you: stop forcing the NFL down our throats during the summer. Nobody likes to think about Christmas in July, and I don’t like to think about safety blitzes in June. There is a time for everything, and as far as the NFL goes, it begins tonight and ends Feb. 7.
Adam is a junior majoring in journalism. Are you sick of sensationalized NFL offseason coverage? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.