From Miami to Seattle, fans of the National Football League woke up Monday, February 8 with a terrible sense of foreboding. “The Super Bowl is over.” “What use is there in continuing to live?”
Baseball, basketball, hockey, and soccer are now, or soon will be, upon us. But, no sport (with apologies to baseball’s famous “America’s Pastime” hype) takes hold of the American consciousness as professional football does. Little wonder, then why football fans in their home team jammies are walking around in a daze.
Gildshire understands. We wanted to offer some comfort in the form of an announcement. Football isn’t really over.
The NFL used to be a Fall into early Winter activity. Post-season the players would go away, and the team headquarters would be shuttered until camp in the summer. But that is no longer the case. Here are just a few of the activities and news making occasions the football fan can expect.
February 23-29-The NFL Scouting Combine: That’s right! In just a couple of weeks, hundreds of draft eligible college players will descend on Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. They will be met there by team officials, armed with psychological evaluation tests (known as The Wonderlic) and stop watches. They will put the players through paces they will encounter when playing in the NFL. The Combine (and hundreds of hours of college game tape) will help the teams try to find the next big star.
March 7- Free Agency Period Begins: If your team was eliminated from playoff contention around Thanksgiving it didn’t have enough good players. There are only two ways to build a good team. You can draft them or sign them from other teams when their contracts expire. The first week of March is when the latter category of player will become available.
April 4 and April 18-First OTAs: Teams reconvene in April for off season workouts, known as Organized Team Activities. OTAs begin April 18, unless your team has a new Head Coach. If your Head Coach is new to your team, OTAs begin April 4.
April 28-30-The NFL Draft: The draft was held in New York City until last year, when it moved to Chicago. It is expected the draft will eventually find a permanent home in the new stadium complex to be built in Los Angeles. Seven rounds of player selection are conducted, when your team will try to get better through the acquisition of rookie players. The teams draft in ascending order of last year’s final standings, unless there have been draft placement trades made between the teams.
May 23-25-NFL League Meetings: The 32 owners of National Football League teams will gather in Charlotte to discuss rules changes and procedural decisions having to do with how the league is run. Football fans are always interested in rules changes, which have recently been implemented to deal with the tragic number of head injuries suffered by NFL players.
Mid July-Training Camps Open: Fifteen days before your team is scheduled to play a pre-season game the gates to their training camp will swing open for returning players. Seven days before camp opens, the gates will swing open for rookies and first-year players. The exact date varies from team to team.
August 4-7-The NFL Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Game: The NFL Hall of Fame is located in Canton, Ohio, where the league was first formed. The first weekend in August, players who have been retired at least five years and who are elected for the honor, are inducted into the Hall of Fame. Team and league officials, as well as broadcasters have enshrinement opportunities, as well. The weekend is capped off with the league’s first exhibition game. The season is almost here!
Throughout August-Preseason Games: Which new players will make your team’s roster? How do the veterans look? Is the coaching staff making changes so your team doesn’t fall out of contention around Thanksgiving this year? These are the questions for which fans seek answers during August. Can you feel it? It really is ALMOST HERE!
September 8, 8 p.m. Eastern/ 5 pm Pacific, Opening Night: Finally and at last! It’s back! The World Champion Denver Broncos will host another good-to-great team to kick off the 2016-17 National Football League season. Opening Night’s game and season-opening festivities will be televised by NBC. The rest of the league opens the season the following weekend. Monday Night Football will feature two games, televised by ESPN.