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Thursday, September 4, 2014

No matter what NFL does, fans always come back

Joe Marchilena

And so it begins again, the ritual of the fall we call the National Football League. It really kind of began in July, with training camp. Or in May, with the draft and OTAs. Or was it in March, when free agency started?

You know what; forget it. The important thing is that it’s time for the NFL season to kickoff its Thursday schedule. There’s one game tonight, then 13 on Sunday, then two more on Monday. Give it time, and those 16 games will be spread out across every day except Tuesday. ...

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And so it begins again, the ritual of the fall we call the National Football League. It really kind of began in July, with training camp. Or in May, with the draft and OTAs. Or was it in March, when free agency started?

You know what; forget it. The important thing is that it’s time for the NFL season to kickoff its Thursday schedule. There’s one game tonight, then 13 on Sunday, then two more on Monday. Give it time, and those 16 games will be spread out across every day except Tuesday.

This year’s NFL opener is an interesting one, and not just because its a matchup of the defending champs – Seattle – against a legit challenger – Green Bay – or because it’s the league’s best quarterback (yes, Aaron Rogers) against the league’s best defense.

The last time these teams met was the game that got all of the NFL’s replacement refs fired – or, if you prefer, the game that convinced the NFL to end its silly lockout of its real officials.

It should have been a game that turned a lot of people off from the league, but it didn’t.

Since then, there have been a lot of things that should have stopped us from watching the NFL, many of them more series than a refusal to give part-time refs benefits.

There’s the fact that the league’s players continue to think they can operate cars under the influence. It amazes me – and you, too, I’m sure – how someone who makes hundreds of thousands – and in some cases, millions – of dollars, doesn’t have enough to hire a driver or take a cab.

And it’s not just the players. Colts owner Jim Irsay this week was handed a $500,000 fine and a six-game suspension after he plead guilty to driving while intoxicated. Irsay won’t be back until Oct. 19, when the Colts host the Bengals, meaning he’ll miss key games against Denver and Philadelphia.

What affect that has on anyone remains to be seen.

Unless you’ve been under a rock all summer, you’ve heard someone complain about the league’s discrepancy in punishments for drug users and spousal abusers. If you actually have been under a rock all summer, get ready.

It’s dumb that Cleveland’s Josh Gordon will be out for the entire year because he smokes a little too much pot, but that Baltimore’s Ray Rice got just two games for getting caught on video beating his wife is beyond appalling.

I guess Roger Goodell deserves some credit for admitting he was wrong in suspending Rice just two games and for creating a policy to deal with those accused of domestic violence. But what I want to know is, why is such a policy needed? Beating your wife, or girlfriend, or boyfriend, or kid obviously deserves a greater punishment than two games.

Actually, it was obvious to everyone except for the person that counted – the Commish.

And then there’s what happened to Michael Sam last weekend. Never thought I’d say this, but thank your deity of choice for the Cowboys.

I don’t care what reasons you want to throw at me, the only thing I’ll believe is that the Rams cut Sam on Saturday, and didn’t add him to their practice squad on Sunday, is because he is openly gay. Same goes for the other 30 teams in the NFL, and that’s shameful.

Are we really supposed to believe no one has a roster or practice squad spot for the reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Year? It’s worth noting that of the previous 10 players who won that award in college, only one was drafted after the first round. Sam was picked in the seventh by St. Louis.

Good thing we’ve got the Cowboys.

Ugh; saying that makes me cringe. Is it time for kickoff yet?

Joe Marchilena can be reached at 594-6478 or jmarchilena@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Marchilena on Twitter
(@Telegraph_JoeM).