On Wednesday night, the eve of the prime time coverage for the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine, I found myself flipping channels to see what could possibly be on. Trying to find something appropriate for the kids, I just so happened to swing by NFL Network. Instead of a bunch of analysis and talk leading up to the combine, they were re-airing the Week 5 matchup between the New England Patriots and Houston Texans. It didn’t seem like an exciting game, as I ultimately had to look up how the game played out, but it was something they were showing.
When I stopped to watch a couple plays, I suddenly felt an adrenaline rush as I saw football being played on the field. With everything else going on in life and the NFL, I simply didn’t realize how much I missed watching the game, regardless of who was playing.
The NFL does a great job of keeping itself relevant throughout the entire offseason. When the Super Bowl ends, even a week later than normal, it’s only a matter of weeks until the NFL Combine begins and is now televised in prime time over four days. After the combine will be the craziness which is the kickoff to the new league year and NFL Free Agency. News and reports will be flying left and right with plenty to talk about around the league.
After free agency calms down after about a week, it won’t be long until the NFL Draft rolls around the last week of April. From there, it’s rookie minicamp, Organized Team Activities (OTAs), minicamp, and then about a six week layoff until training camp kicks off. Other than the middle of June to the end of July, there is a lot going on in the NFL.
I know people who are so into the NFL Draft some would think it’s kind of scary. Knowing the name of the hundreds of prospects, they are ready to see how everything plays out across the league and for their team. While I obviously pay attention to the draft, I don’t quite take it that far.
I also really enjoy free agency. Knowing how at any moment news may break which could change not only the Steelers but other teams across the league is really exciting. And the draft is a spectacle and I can’t wait to see what players will be joining the Steelers.
But nothing compares to watching football on the field.
There is so much that goes on in the building of an NFL team each season. Between the coaching staff, the front office hires, a draft, free agency, and contract extensions, it’s all these things coming together to give fans what’s going on in the shaping of their team. But at the end of the day, it really comes down to players on the field playing a game for our enjoyment. I can’t get enough of it, and I really miss it when it’s gone.
In Week 5 of the 2021 NFL season, the New England Patriots defeated the Houston Texans 25–22. They scored the final 16 points of the game, 10 of which were in the fourth quarter, and kicked a field goal to win it with less than 20 seconds remaining. The game took place on October 10, and was going on at the same time as the Steelers took on the Denver Broncos an Heinz Field. While this game meant nothing to me at the time, it sure did make me care for a little while on a Wednesday night the first week of March.
The NFL Draft is great. NFL free agency is great. The combine can even be great. But all of it simply is the distraction for what we’ve want more than anything…NFL, particularly the Pittsburgh Steelers, football.