The football season has officially ended. No matter what team you root for, the worst 182 days of an NFL fan’s year is commencing as you read. No more Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays spent glued to the television, ignoring everyone around you. No more hurried fantasy roster changes as your boss passes by your cubicle. It’s time to get back to reality. Doing housework, making grocery runs and speaking to your wife are only tiny spokes of the wheel of change that’s been set in motion.
What can you do? How can you prolong this blissful disconnect until the preseason kicks back up on August 5th? Here are some key dates and hobbies you can pick up during the offseason to take on that NFL hangover like a champ.
Study up for the NFL Draft (80 days down, 102 to go) – With hundreds of players eligible for the draft every year, there is a greater than zero chance that you haven’t heard of ninety percent of them. In order to be prepped for draft day, take a dip in the informational pool that is YouTube and do some background work. The next great sixth-round steal is lurking in there somewhere. With all your research done ahead of time, you’ll be able to sound somewhat educated when you scream at your team’s GM for blowing another first round pick on a wideout who thinks Wonderlic is a brand of popsicles.
Barricade yourself during the Draft April 25-27 (3 days down, 99 to go) – These three days are where the champions are built. Forget about practice, the teams that do their homework and draft quality players are the ones who succeed long term. A good front office makes everyone else look good. Think of how awesome you’ll feel in a few months when you tell your friends “I knew Jonathan Franklin was a steal in the fifth round.”
Check your power situation (7 days down, 92 to go) – We need only look to the Super Bowl to see what can happen when you’ve got too many cords plugged in to the old power strip. Take some time to get acquainted with your pad’s electrical system, maybe even call a pro over to make sure you don’t have any questionable connections. You don’t want to be watching that key 4th quarter drive in Week 13 only to have a shoddy wire connection knock out your signal.
Reassess your home theater experience (14 days down, 78 to go) – Since you’ve already gone through the pain of looking at your wires, take a look at that old TV you’ve got. If you’re the type to upgrade your flat screen every other year, then chances are you’re in good shape. But if the Buffalo Bills have been in a playoff game since you last bought a TV, it’s time to change that. With new Ultra HD and OLED sets hitting the market soon, you should be able to pick up an aging LED or Plasma for a song.
Take a weekend trip to Canton (3 days down, 75 to go) – Get leg-up on the crowds and visit the Hall of Fame during the summer. Sure, you won’t be able to see the shiny batch of new busts, but at least you’ll be able avoid having some giddy Ravens fan breathing on your neck as you try to read Jonathan Ogden’s bronzed bio.
Commence Fantasy Football research (30 days down, 45 to go) – Tied of seeing your fantasy football league fees go right to your co-worker’s kids’ Christmas presents? Take the pot this year by doing some deep fantasy research. Find out which defense looks to be the most ball-hawky next season or which team’s kicker is going to become the next phantom point factory. With a little brainwork up front and some lucky breaks, you could be the one treating your family to a sweet vacation this Christmas…or you could just beef up your scotch cabinet.
Spend some time with your family (20 days down, 25 to go) – You know that feeling. You’re watching your team on Sunday, and the left side of your face starts to get warm. You slightly rotate your head and your gaze sets on your wife, arms folding with that laser gaze dead-set on your cranium. Your kids are tugging on your lucky jersey like a dog on the mailman’s leg. Put a little coin in the patience meter by treating the family to a little quality time with their patriarch. Add video games and jewelry for bonus points.
Master the art of the tailgate (7 days down, 18 to go) – On a scale from one to delicious, how well can you smoke a brisket? Are you going with sausage links or brats? These are questions that demand to be answered! You don’t want to be the guy in the parking lot spraying lighter fluid on dead coals like a dog marking his favorite stump.
Tune out football to clear your mind (11 days down, 7 to go) – Athletes who compete in any kind of endurance sport are familiar with this concept, it’s called tapering. You reduce the amount of exercise you do ahead of a big race or meet so that your muscles are primed and ready to go. For a football fan, you’ll want to get your mind right for the coming season, as you don’t want to get halfway through the season and forget who your team’s backup long snapper is. All that hard work you put in building credibility will be thrown out the window.
Attend a Training Camp July 29th to August 5th (7 days down, 0 to go) – Get familiar with the new faces on the roster by seeing their development first-hand. If you’re lucky, your team’s training camp site doubles as a great vacation getaway. If you’re a Lions fan, well, maybe visit another team’s camp.
And there you have it, 182 days worth of activities to get you through the offseason. Before you know it, you’ll be watching your favorite reserves play for their careers in those riveting preseason matchups. Hydrate, stretch and don’t overload your circuit breaker and you should be just fine.