It’s about time! After grueling months of preparation and court cases, the NFL season has finally arrived. It’s time for the teams that struggled last year to try and get into the playoffs and finally show if they made the right improvements during the off-season to move past that losing record. Ultimately, that is the beauty of it all isn’t it? Every single NFL season each team, regardless of their previous success or failures, start from scratch with hopes of being a better version of their former selves. Teams such as the Buffalo Bills and the Houston Texans who both last year missed the playoffs by the skin of their teeth (both finishing the 2014 season with 9- 7 records) have to see this season as their coming out parties. Especially with Houston gaining more public spotlight due to their appearance on HBO’s ‘Hard Knocks’ this summer, they have a rare chance to possibly cash in on that extra publicity by putting together a playoff caliber season.

   Then there are the brothers in the Big Apple with the Jets and Giants who both missed out on the playoffs last year as well. The G-Men were formidable in all of their contest last year (without an injured Victor Cruz), but just couldn’t close the deal and ended up with a sub par 6-10 record. Though they did find out that they have a future star wide-receiver in Rookie of the Year winner Odell Beckham Jr. and they will surely be a handful offensively for any team this season. On the flip-side the Jets have gone through a rocky year so far leading up to the season. On one hand they managed to get their former star defensive backs Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie back in the gang-green uniform, making their already solid defense a possible Top-5 contender. Then on the other hand they’ve had some off the field issues occur with their Pro Bowl defensive end Sheldon Richardson (Yes, another marijuana case), thereby having him suspended for the first four games of the season. To add to the matter their starting quarterback Geno Smith has also been sidelined for quite a while due to a physical encounter with a now former teammate, which resulted in him having a broken jaw.

   While there were cases of players’ unfortunately failing to comply with the NFL’s conduct policy, there has been one situation that has been drawn out and finally dealt with before the season begins next week. Recently the infamous New England Patrioits “Deflategate” court case that has transpired for months (since the end of the 2014 AFC Championship game) has finally come to a close. Orginally NFL Commisioner Roger Goddell suspended superstar and 2014 Superbowl MVP quarterback Tom Brady for the first four games of the 2015 season due to his supposed involvement with cheating during the AFC championship game. After a long dragged out court battle, Brady and his legal team reigned supreme this week and his suspension was lifted by Judge Richard Berman. Though the NFL will inevitably appeal this decision, Tom Brady will now have the right to fully participate this season and with the way Brady plays with a chip on his shoulder, most teams better be prepared for a Patriots team looking to make another statement this season.

   Yet, through the long wait of the season the most heart breaking occurrence that happens every year throughout the league is the inevitable injury list. The Green Bay Packers lost their lead receiver in Pro Bowler Jordy Nelson to a torn ACL during a pre-season game, while the Carolina Panthers lost their top receiver in Kelvin Benjamin to the same injury. Then there’s the Jacksonville Jaguars who still can’t seem to catch a break as they lose their 2015 first-round pick defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. to an ACL tear before his career begins. It’s an unfortunate part of the game, but it is always hard to see any player go down before the season truly commences. Though as the saying goes, “The show must go on!”… And so it shall.

   This year will be the year of Super Bowl 50 and that is a very prestigious landmark for the NFL. Many teams will be vying for the opportunity to represent the league in that championship game and it will be an all-out brawl till the end of the season to see which one comes out on top. So some squads that made it to the playoffs last season will undoubtedly be replaced by a couple who missed out. Those who think they were close to the ultimate prize last year will have to find a way to reinvent themselves just enough to make that final push. Everybody wants the Lombardi Trophy, but it’s going to be the team that consistently goes out there and puts it all on the line game in and game out that will achieve that goal, regardless of what happen in the past. It’s anybody’s game, and that is the beauty of this sport. Welcome back football! 

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