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Another NFL chapter is about to end…kind of

I can’t believe it’s about to end.

As I write this article on Sunday, February 11, 2024, I do so mere hours before the Chiefs take on the 49ers in Super Bowl LVIII. It’s the last time we’ll watch football until the Hall of Fame Game. (That’s still the first preseason game, right?)

No football for seven months? Actually, there will be plenty of football, but just not the playing kind. Instead, we’ll talk about what might happen the next time all 32 NFL teams play games. That will be the focus for the next seven months. Heck, who am I kidding? It’s been the focus in dozens of NFL cities since their football representatives were eliminated from Lombardi contention.

I have to admit that this wasn’t my favorite NFL season. The Steelers, my preferred team, were mostly unwatchable all year. You know that thing about watching paint dry? Yeah, that would have been better on most Sundays. Not only that, but the oversaturation of NFL broadcasts and coverage has made me less of a fan in recent years. I never thought I’d say that, but here we are. I hope these feelings are the direct (or indirect) result of the Steelers’ mediocre-to-worse product in recent years, and I guess I’ll find out the next time they are actually good.

It was still a pretty compelling 2023 season. “Mr Irrelevant,” Brock Purdy, took his team to the Super Bowl in his second season after being picked dead last in the 2022 NFL Draft. Patrick Mahomes, the NFL’s glory boy for the past six years, remained in that role despite his Chiefs, the defending Super Bowl champions, looking mostly mediocre for most of the 2023 campaign. You know that cliche “Never underestimate the heart of a champion?” I suppose Kansas City epitomized that in 2023. The Chiefs played two road games in the postseason–the only two road playoff games of Mahomes’s career–and still managed to make it back to the Super Bowl for the fourth time in the past five seasons.

And how can we talk about the Chiefs and not mention the Travis Kelce/Taylor Swift romance? All Kelce had to do was shoot his shot at one of her concerts in the summer, talk about how he did that on his podcast, and then have some of Swift’s friends implore her to give him a chance. Oh yeah, and he had to be born Travis Kelce. Boom, the biggest story of the 2023 season.

Anyway, what about Bill Belichick leaving the Patriots after 24 years and not being able to find a head coaching job? I didn’t see that coming. And who knew Belichick could be so personable and charming with the media and/or on television? Certainly not the many reporters who had to deal with him over the years, that’s for sure.

Lamar Jackson was voted the NFL’s MVP for a second time.

Myles Garrett was voted the Defensive Player of the Year for the first time in his career. Did he deserve it? Ask Steelers fans.

Kevin Stefanski was voted NFL Coach of the Year for the second time.

Joe Flacco was voted Comeback Player of the Year.

Actually, maybe you should refrain from asking Steelers fans about anything NFL awards-related.

Dak Prescott still didn’t win anything huge as the Cowboys’ quarterback. Maybe it’s his fault . Then again, maybe it’s the fault of his boss, the owner who also likes to play general manager.

You know that long-standing rule where a team loses possession if it fumbles out of the end zone it’s attempting to score a touchdown in? For whatever reason, many folks now hate that rule, which is like suddenly being angry about saying “God bless you” after a sneeze. You never cared about it for all of those years, now it’s something you’re finally questioning?

The NFL officiating was never as bad as it was in 2023. Then again, maybe it was–Catch Rule, anyone–but we always think the now is the most important time ever.

Oh well, I can’t wait to see what 2024 brings in terms of football. Admittedly, I’m going to do my best with the waiting part. I believe football has gotten to a place that makes it harder to miss. I want to miss it again. If I miss it, I’ll look forward to it. If I look forward to it, perhaps I’ll enjoy it again.

Until next time, football.

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