Keeler: Going through football withdrawal

There’s plenty going on in the world of sports right now. With the NBA Finals coming down to Game 7, Major League Baseball is just catching its stride as summer officially begins, the College World Series is still going, and there’s even an NHL Stanley Cup Finals going on (not that I or many other people are watching). Despite all of that, my mind keeps drifting to the same place, the same sport, even though it’s still more than a month away — football season.

Anyone that knows me knows I love tennis, but that’s mostly because it’s the only sport I can actually play (and play for life, I might add). While I love tennis, football gets me excited like no other sport.

Part of the reason may be because the season is small in comparison with every other sport. The NFL only plays 16 regular-season games, while college regular seasons are usually only 10-12 games. And they only play once a week (I really wish they would have at least one game a day). They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and maybe that’s part of it. All I know is that I miss football season.

I miss the big runs up the middle breaking tackle after tackle, the big bone-crushing hits, the spectacular catches by some big-time wide receiver who makes too much money.
Not only do I miss the NFL, but I miss college and high school football as well. I can’t say that about any other sport.

Maybe it’s because I miss it so much, or maybe because I just like throwing my money down the drain, but I’ve already bought an NFL preview and college preview book this year. It’s the earliest I can ever remember buying them, and what might be worse is the big smile I had on my face as I bought them.

The first NFL preseason game this year is Aug. 4, and I will probably be watching the game a little closer than usual. The Hall of Fame game features two of my favorite teams — The Dallas Cowboys and the Miami Dolphins. They don’t play each other a lot (and considering how bad they’ve been for the last few years, we’re probably all a little grateful for that).

I’m not sure what to expect from the Cowboys this season. Every year there’s boneheads out there that pick the Cowboys to break through and have a great season, but as usual I won’t get my hopes up. Once upon a time winning and competing for a Super Bowl title was expected, now I just hope they don’t embarrass themselves too bad. I’ve learned to not expect any of my teams to win a Super Bowl, which I’m sure will make it that much sweeter when one eventually does.

Still, there’s plenty to be excited about for the upcoming NFL season, everything from Tim Tebow in New England, to how do Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos bounce back? Can the Baltimore Ravens defend their title (or will they even make the playoffs), and can the San Francisco 49ers recover from losing in the Super Bowl? Of course, in Washington D.C., all eyes will be on Robert Griffin III. Can’t wait for all that hype.

The college football season will have plenty of drama, as well. According to the experts, Alabama is favored to win yet again. I’m all for dynasties, but is anyone else getting sick of seeing Nick Saban come out on top yet again? I know what actually happened last season, but in my mind my favorite team, the Ohio State Buckeyes, were the real national champions. The Buckeyes went undefeated, so how can anybody really say they were better?

There will be no NCAA penalty holding the Buckeyes back this season. Look out Alabama, here come the Buckeyes.

Locally, Virginia and Virginia Tech could be a mess this season. Both had down years, and I’m not sure I see either being a whole lot better this season. JMU also struggled at times, and I’m interested to see if the Dukes can turn things around. Shenandoah has a new coach, and that might be just what the Hornets need to put together a solid year.

The first high school practices are on Aug. 1. With the Virginia High School League switching to six classifications there will be some definite changes. Even for football it will be noticeable.

There are some big changes on the football schedule this year, including Skyline hosting Warren County in the first game of the season. Strasburg plays both East Rockingham and James Wood.

I’m sure it’s going to be a season to remember, but then again to me it always is.

I’m also sure that this is just the first of many columns I’ll be writing this season about football.

I know it’s still more than a month away, but August simply can’t get here fast enough for me.

Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com