Why I love the first game of the preseason, and you should too


In an age in which every aspect of everything is over-covered 25-8-366, the preseason opener is the one time we get a true first look at a lot of things - rookies, new coaches and even new positions, it only happens once a year.

I wake up pretty early every day. Most days. There's a certain temperature I come to expect based on the season. I can probably tell you within a few degrees what the temperature is outside when I take the dog out.

There isn't a more noticeable difference between the mid-summer temps and the just-start-to-get-into-later summer temps.

The sun is down just a little earlier in the day and it rises just a little later. The damp, cool feeling outside speaks to the upcoming football season even more than the screams of the masses talking about this year's Fantasy Football hero.

I love the mornings, and I love the start of the football season.

Preseason games mean absolutely nothing in the grand scheme. NFL statisticians work three times as hard to discern players they haven't heard of each getting one catch, one rush and one incompletion in box scores that are measured in feet, not words.

But that weather, combined with the idea we're watching live football is one of the few things left any more that remain unspoiled through the saturation of social media.

We don't get to watch training camp live, and while we're bombarded by instant reports and the most recent clicks of odometers logged by trainer's carts, we don't feel the crowd's anxiety seeing the Plaxico Burress's and the Matt Spaeth's going down with what we hope is nothing serious.

We'll immediately crank out the news and analysis for the starving throngs of readers, but without the images, it just isn't the same. I'm not old, nor am I particularly young, but I remember a time when I was four or five where all I got to see about football was on Sundays. I didn't have cable and DirecTV was still years away from the Manning Brothers. I was fascinated by the logos of teams I never got to see. The Seahawks and the Broncos were two of my favorites. Not teams, mind you, but just for the sake of feeling like there was more than just my Steelers and Vikings worlds.

It was like discovering and remembering foreign lands every time I read over the NFL Stats section of the newspaper (released every Tuesday, which I still remember even 28 years later).

That same feeling consumes me when I get ready for the first preseason game of the year. For all its uselessness, I've never seen Markus Wheaton perform in any kind of significant way in a black Steelers jersey. I have no clue how big Adrian Robinson looks this year. Is Ben Roethlisberger trimmer, or has Jonathan Dwyer lost weight, yet, not lost power?

The idea of basing football enjoyment on Fantasy Football-ish kinds of things never was my thing. Seeing the game live, without pretense or precognition, has never gone stale for me.

Every time is like I'm four again, seeing new logos and players do things I've been long anticipating watching.

Every preseason opener is something new. To me, not every game has to be the Super Bowl. So even if it's a running back with a number in the 40s running for three yards a carry, that's fine. At least we can see it.

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