Round-the-clock NFL coverage needs to let fans take break

April 7, 2014 

Dear NFL:

Get lost.

I say this as your friend. Sunday afternoons with you during the regular season are the best.

Your playoffs are fabulous. The Super Bowl? When 15 revelers turn quiet so that everybody can follow what’s showing on the TV — and what’s showing is a beer commercial — you know you’re on to something special.

But you need a rest. Didn’t I hear you’re interested in Europe? Go to Europe. Explore London. See Rome. You’ll love Paris in the springtime.

You’ve been on a whirlwind pace during the two months since the Seahawks returned to Seattle with the Vince Lombardi Trophy. You held a predraft combine, opened a free-agent signing window that turned into a feeding frenzy and tweaked some rules at the league meetings, such as prohibiting players from dunking the ball over the crossbar after touchdowns.

(Seems like a curious thing to outlaw, until you consider dunking usually is done by jamming a basketball through a hoop. Kids watch dunks after touchdowns and are reminded of basketball, and kids don’t need to be reminded of basketball during a football game. You are a sly one, NFL.)

When the league meetings were over, you weren’t through. You visited colleges for the pro day workouts of some of the guys you saw at the predraft combine, and you put the finishing touches on a schedule expected to be announced in late April, when most teams begin two weeks of “voluntary” workouts.

May really gets crazy with the draft, and when the draft hoopla subsides, players will report for the minicamps and organized team activities that precede summer camp.

Take some time off, NFL. Disappearing for three weeks is out of the question, I get it, but how does a two-week vacation sound?

No? OK, make it one week.

Make it this week, which is one of the great weeks of the sports calendar.

Monday night, Kentucky will take on Connecticut for the NCAA men’s basketball championship at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys.

(See what I mean, NFL? Even when you’re out of the picture, you’re never far away.)

Tuesday night, the Seattle Mariners will celebrate their home opener with a pregame ceremony honoring, uh, the NFL team that plays its games across the street.

Two days later, the world’s best golfers will compete in the first major tournament of 2014, the Masters, which is set to kick off Thursday morning. (Oops, wrong sports term. Golfers don’t kick off, they tee off. But football is ingrained in my brain.)

Trivia question: Why did Bobby Jones, founding father of the tournament annually held in Augusta, Ga., arrange for the Masters to be played in early April?

Trivia answer: Jones wanted to make it convenient for syndicated sports writers of the day — this was 1934 — returning north after covering baseball spring training in Florida.

Few nationally prominent journalists still parlay a spring training assignment into a chance to wax poetic about the dazzling azaleas in full bloom at Augusta.

Those fortunate enough to realize two bucket-list destinations in one trip usually make it the Final Four and the Masters, a dream gig somewhat compromised this year by the suspicion they missed the major story about DeSean Jackson being released by the Philadelphia Eagles and acquired by the Washington Redskins.

The Eagles’ decision to part ways with a star wide receiver is a hot-button conversation topic because of their unclear motives. Was it related to a report of Jackson’s association with a street gang?

Jackson’s former coaches didn’t think he was much of a team guy, but if every star receiver were cut because he wasn’t a team guy, quarterbacks would find themselves throwing lots of dump-off passes to running backs.

In any case, I’m already as tired of DeSean Jackson as I am of the complicated feud/friendship saga of former Dolphins offensive linemen Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito.

I’m tired of speculating about which team will take a first-round risk on former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, and tired of hearing about the amazing athletic ability of South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, whose recent pro day workout, televised live, was broken down by three ESPN analysts.

One analyst for each sack he recorded last season.

Take a week off, NFL. Please let the next few days be about basketball and baseball and golf. Please clear the floor, allowing other sports a chance to breathe.

A deal?

I guess not. Seven NFL teams with new coaches have been given the go-ahead to begin the first phase of voluntary workouts Monday.

Dear NFL:

Never mind.


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