So Opening Day to me used to mean only two things: The first day pitchers and catchers reported to spring training for the new baseball season, and the actual Opening Day, the first week of April.
But as I said before, baseball and me are pretty much broken up. I don’t have the passion for it anymore, and I don’t even think I noticed those two old landmarks last spring.
Now, the two best dates for me, this year, are today and Sept. 13. Because today, the Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills players started reporting for NFL training camp. And Sept. 13 is the first Sunday of the NFL season.
I can smell it. I can taste it. Football is just around the corner.
After a long hiatus, the memories are all wafting back into the mind’s eye.
The blinding speed of the wide receivers breaking open past the defense. The lightning-quick feet of the running back, dancing through holes like a Baryshnikov in cleats. The bone-crunching hit by the middle linebacker on a tight end who has the temerity to come across the middle.
I miss it so much during the offseason. Even though I’m a New York Jets fan, and I know the upcoming season will bring misery and end without a championship, just like the last 40 have, I still am as excited for football’s return as a kid on the night before his birthday. (My family, knowing the insane level of my Jets fan-dom, has often asked me how I would react if the Jets ever actually, you know, WON a Super Bowl. I tell them not to worry; it’s never going to happen, so that question will always be hypothetical)
I don’t know exactly when the NFL surpassed baseball as America’s No. 1 sport; it could’ve been in the late 1980s, when the San Francisco 49ers brought offensive beauty to a new level. Or maybe it was during the Dallas Cowboys’ heyday in the early 1990s, when the team everyone loved to hate (including me) was on top.
Whenever it was, the NFL is clearly No.1 right now. Check out the thousands of people who go to training camp just to watch practice for a few hours, or the people who will pay ridiculous amounts of money for personal seat licenses, just for the right to purchase tickets to a game.
I can’t wait for the sounds of the sport I love to come rippling into my ears. I love the roar of the crowd after a sack, and the dead silence when the visiting team scores.
Aah, I love it so much. Training camps are open. Preseason’s just around the corner. Everybody’s still undefeated. The Jets might still win it all this year …
P.S. So I love it when people take an old tradition and completely invent something new. This was from a wedding in Minnesota recently; it’s maybe the best opening to a ceremony I’ve ever seen. It’s just people having fun and completely acting in a wonderfully happy way. It’s already been viewed more than 4 million times on YouTube. Enjoy.