Bye weeks are good for fans, too
Jay Hodgson, Packers contributor
Lambeau Field.Photo: Image by Wayne Larrivee
The NFL of today is very different than the NFL of Vince Lombardi, Bart Starr, and Jerry Kramer. It’s also different now than it was during Mike Holmgren’s return to glory in the 1990s.
The NFL is a year-round operation, for the players and for the fans.
After the Super Bowl, the free agency period opens. Fans pay close attention to this so they can see if their favorites are retained by their team or if new blood is on the way to make them contenders.
The NFL Combine is televised, so fans can get a great look at all the hot prospects while making their list of most wanted draftees and filling out their mock drafts.
Even the draft is a big event these days. It has grown from one stuffy day in a conference room to a three-day event on television that kicks off during primetime.
The draft really triggers the start of the NFL season for fans. Reinforcements and missing pieces to the championship puzzle are on the way. Hope springs eternal.
Everyone is undefeated during the draft. Fans are truly excited about what the new season will bring.
After a few months of dormancy, training camp opens in July. Position battles are settled, new plays are drawn up and practiced, young talent develops, and hopes are all high that our favorite teams will be better than last year.
Since fans have been deprived of football for almost eight months, they’re all glued to the television sets during preseason games. These are pretty meaningless games of not the highest level of competition.
But, we needed our fix. The NFL Network knows this and rebroadcasts all the preseason games.
How many of you watched replays of meaningless preseason games? Exactly. So did I. We missed football and needed it.
All in all, starting free with agency and ending with the preseason, every fan’s optimism is soaring. Everyone thinks their team will make the playoffs and are destined to bring the Lombardi Trophy home.
But, once the regular seasons gets on its way, some of the optimism fades. Perhaps a key player gets hurt. Maybe that juggernaut offense isn’t clicking as expected. Or, an unexpected loss to a lesser team turns emotions sour.
I remember reading about how the sky was falling in Packers Nation once Bryan Bulaga was lost for the season. Everyone, including the coaches and training staff were being questioned.
After the Packers lost a heartbreaker to the Cincinnati Bengals, pessimism was rampant. I’ll even admit to being cranky and cynical myself.
The blogosphere was ablaze with all kinds of critical analyses.
Aaron Rodgers can’t win the close one. Mike McCarthy can’t call good plays. Clay Matthews can’t stay healthy. The Packers’ defense can’t stop anyone.
I heard it all.
I don’t think it’s really how Packers fans feel about their team. I think it’s the result of just heartbreak bringing out normal human emotions.
And, it may be the product of the year-round NFL grind.
Fans invest emotions in their team all year now. We now have higher highs and lower lows. The peaks and valleys are more extreme. We get burned out a little bit.
So, maybe bye weeks are good for the fans, too.
It allows us to take our minds off of our team for a week. We can focus on other activities and recharge our own batteries.
I think it worked. The doom and gloom I read in the blogosphere is gone.
Now, I’m reading about how the Packers will undoubtedly beat the Lions. In fact, optimism is high and says the Packers will go undefeated in October.
Aaron Rodgers is back to being the best quarterback in the league, Mike McCarthy is top play caller, and Dom Capers’ defense is stout once again.
My, what a difference a week makes. Time off refreshes our perspective. Maybe the old adage of absence making the heart grow fonder is true.
With the NFL being a year-round business now, fans can get worn out. Now, our emotions are fresh and all is once again normal back in Packers Nation.
Let’s get back to football. Let the tailgates and celebrations begin.