The Baltimore Ravens’ Super Bowl victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Harbowl I marked the end of a football season that started with pre-season NFL and regular season college football back in August. For the true football fan the question becomes…now that football season is over what do I do from now until my beloved sport starts again?
Well, most football fans will find some comfort in the competitive fire of other sports, such as the NHL. The National Hockey League, fresh off its 113-day long labor dispute, is back for a shortened, but still exciting, 48-game season. Already 10 games in, the defending champ Blackhawks have yet to lose and lead the league with 20 points. The game’s best player, Sidney Crosby, had ample time to rest up and has his Penguins atop the Eastern Conference with 16 points, just ahead of the Boston Bruins.
The month of February actually serves up some rather exciting sporting events that can tide the football fan over for, say a week or two. The NBA All-Star weekend begins February 15th with its usual selection, including the familiar Slam Dunk Contest featuring defending champ Jeremy Evans. And then on Sunday, fans are treated to a no-defense score-fest featuring the game’s best players - Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, Blake Griffin, and the like.
If the NBA weekend doesn’t cut it, look ahead to the following weekend when the annual Super Bowl of racing gets underway in Daytona. The Daytona 500 kicks off the 2013 Nascar racing circuit and with fast cars, lots of noise and scantily clad women, is perfect for the football fan looking for a release.
And if racing isn’t your cup of tea, get a taste of what’s to come next fall with the NFL Combine which will start up on February 20th in Indianapolis. With hours of coverage by the NFL Network, football fans can prepare their mock drafts with experts Mel Kiper, Jr. and Todd McShay. There won’t be any plays from scrimmage, but there will be plenty of 40-yard dashes, vertical jumps, and young men bench pressing 225 pounds like it was a piece of balsa wood.
The NFL Combine can get the football fan through February which is just about when college basketball really gets interesting. Conferences will be nearing the end of league play and preparing for their conference tournaments. The 2012-13 season has been nothing short of exciting with four different No. 1 teams in the past four weeks. Perennial powers Duke, Kansas, Syracuse, and Indiana have all been ranked in the top ten with the Orange and Indiana holding the top spot recently.
When March Madness hits, all eyes will be on the NCAA tournament where anything can happen. It’s underdog heaven. Football fans love stories about teams like Butler (which is the smallest school to ever make it to a championship game and did it twice!) and George Mason. At the very least, college basketball gives a good two-month stretch that will get the football fan into April. And with April comes…
The NFL Draft! Once again, football fans will gather for the now prime-time event and spend three days poring over scouting reports and mock drafts hoping that their team finds the next Tom Brady or Ray Lewis. On April 25 from Radio City Music Hall in New York City, the NFL Draft will get underway and provide a weekend of something football. The Kansas City Chiefs, by virtue of their not-so-great 2012 season, are now on the clock.
Nothing, of course, can replace the sounds of pads cracking, the long touchdown runs, or the grace of the acrobatic touchdown catch at the back of the end zone. But, for the football fan, at least there are a few things that can keep us occupied until we can do it all again.