My point is this: I enjoy watching football. I don't enjoy watching paperwork. Cramming off-season player movement into a tighter time window doesn't make me suddenly appreciate the process, any more than Taco Bell deciding to be open only one day a week would make me more likely to eat there.
I understand where Jake and Hampton are coming from. This is the league's genius—they've made themselves a year-round entertainment product, conquering the calendar in a way that even Christmas can't. The Draft. Training camp. Guys shaking hands and sharing dudebro hugs with Roger Goodell on a sound stage. Guys broasting under the summer sun in shorts and no pads. Feel the power!
Still, I know why both of you care, why so many people watch. Anticipation. The sweet, sweet dopamine in your brains—narrowing your focus, prompting seeking behaviors, priming your neural reward pathways. Like Christmas, the waiting isn't really the hardest part. It's the best part. Dogs drool more before they get a biscuit, don't they? As sports fans, we've been conditioned. Never mind that the next few weeks are akin to the roster file that ships with "Madden NFL," utterly irrelevant on opening day.
That said, I'll definitely care about where Orton lands. Just as soon as he throws his first interception.
Ah, free agency. We have a special story tag over at Deadspin for this period in
sports, which I won't explicitly reference here because it is explicit—but I do think it provides an accurate sentiment about the process, no
matter what side you're on. If you don't eagerly check your smart phone for alerts and set your team's homepage to auto-refresh, then you at least
tolerate it with gritted teeth. It's a carefully-planned circus, full of phone calls and meetings and paperwork—and above all, a whole lot of
A significant part of of the pleasure in (or the disdain for) the NFL's free agency is, as Patrick pointed out, the anticipation that precedes the
confirmation. Twitter, in many ways, has totally magnified and made an utter joke of this process. Earlier this week, a fairly anonymous Twitter user tweeted to the account @NFLDraftInsider "Just heard Pat Devlin
to Arizona Cardinals." The fallout was laughably predictable: the recipient, which has nearly
10,000 followers, retweeted the information, which was picked up by the CBS football blog's Twitter without citation, which was picked up by an SB
Nation blog with credit to CBS, which was then picked up by the official Cardinals blog with citation
to the @NFLDraftInsider tweet. What happened next? Devlin
signed with the Dolphins
. Free fucking agency, indeed.
So yes, it's a frenzy, but it's also a messy, rumor-laden process that often includes more forgotten quotes from anonymous sources than it does actual results. I get that for a lot of fans, and especially
Fantasy players, that's part of the joy—but it's also chaotic. The news cycle for the entire process runs on speculation, and so the build-up to the
"confirmed," rather anticlimactic finale has become the feature of the show. Call it sports's bachelor/ette party. It's fun to go along for the ride,
but when it's over I think we all end up looking a little silly.