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Steelers season is finally here!

After yet another long off-season, the Steelers are back, and so is the NFL. I couldn't be happier.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Pittsburgh Steelers Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Here we are in the week that, as a fan, seemed so far away back on January 22 when the Steelers' 2016 season came to a crashing end at the hands of the Patriots in the AFC title game.

The week I'm talking about, of course, is the the start of a new NFL season and, more importantly, a new Steelers season.

Will Pittsburgh be able to get over that mountain of a hump that appears to be defending champion New England's 2017 squad, then make it to the Super Bowl and actually win it?

That's to be determined.

As for right now, I'm just glad things are starting up again.

Don't get me wrong, the NFL does a great job of keeping the fans engaged throughout the off-season, what with free agency, the draft and even the unveiling of each team's regular-season schedule.

But there's nothing quite like watching football and being engaged with the actual sport week in and week out.

But the bad part about the NFL seemingly having no real off-season is, people are always trying to tear the league and the sport of football down.

I don't know when one person (or one bad apple) ever represented all football players, but it seems like anytime someone gets arrested, is suspended, kneels on the sideline, or tweets something unsavory on social media these days, he becomes the sole reason why some people stop watching.

If I had a dime for every time I've read "I stopped watching because of those unpatriotic scumbags!" during the past few months, I’d have enough toll money to make it through one year of travel for work.

I don't like to get political at all (it's never a battle worth waging), but how could one individual's actions possibly ruin the sport and league you supposedly enjoy so much?

This might be a cliche, but I’ve definitely got football running through my veins.

I can still recall the summer of '84, going to practice each night as a member of my 12-year old midget football team: The Sheraden Vikings.

I was a reserve defensive lineman/linebacker/tight end. On jersey day, I had the audacity to pick No. 75, only three years after the greatest Steeler of all-time—Mean Joe Greene—retired and got on with his life's work.

Actually, I should have picked No. 87, because with my size, agility and great hands, I was Gronk before Gronk. Of course, unlike Gronk, I didn't continue to grow in my teens, and I highly doubt there was ever a market for a 5'9", 190-pound tight end.

But I digress.

When I think back on those days, I still get goosebumps because it reminds me of how much I really enjoyed the game of football as a kid.

Speaking of goosebumps, I made a radio appearance for a Chicago station the other day. The host introduced my segment by playing Classic Battle, one of NFL Films' signature theme songs. As a football fan raised on NFL Films programming back in the '80's (you could actually watch their programs on channels other than The NFL Network), that was a real thrill.

While the Steelers were the only team that made me cry as a kid, I had a lot of football heroes who didn't call Three Rivers Stadium their home field.

Those were the days when you could actually just enjoy players and the sport, and everything wasn't boiled down to: "Our team is great, and their team sucks!"

Anyway, I'm happy the Steelers open up with a game at 1 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon.

While prime-time match-ups are great and exciting, there's just something about sitting in your living room and watching football on a Sunday afternoon.

This is especially the case in September, when fall is fast approaching and there's a slight chill in the air.

Baseball's Opening Day has a certain kind of magic, but if the conditions aren't right, well, there's nothing magical about sitting in 40-degree temperatures while dodging rain drops or even snowflakes.

As for hockey and basketball, both sports are played in arenas and that's just a little too sanitized for my tastes—opening day or not.

Football's opening week is just right and it's still the only sport where your average fan can sit and watch multiple games without having to pay for a higher cable subscription.

Anyway, not to continue preaching, but I don't think anything—not a strike, not CTE, not Colin Kaepernick—will ever make me stop watching and loving professional football.

The Steelers are my team, but football is my sport, and there's simply nothing better than the National Football League.

Go football!