NFL: The 5 Things a Casual Fan is Looking Forward to in the 2010 Season


I’ll be honest right from the start – I’m a hockey fan and a hockey writer. I’ve written one non-hockey article in my life, about former University of Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoliå and the possibility of him winning the Heisman Trophy – and we all know how that turned out. (http://bleacherreport.com/articles/237488-a-heisman-darkhorse-from-a-college-football-nobody)

But football is my second sport, without question. I am a great fan and though I am from the Philadelphia area, the Eagles are simply the close team, not my favorite team. I have no favorite – I simply enjoy competition. I don’t paint my face and yell and scream during games. I only crave the big plays, whether it’s a timely interception, a 60-yard bomb down the field and, of course, a bone-crunching tackle (being a hockey man, that would be expected).

But for some reason, I am more excited for this coming NFL season than I ever have been. There are numerous storylines, in my opinion, none of which rhyme with Fett Bravre. (In fact, he-who-shall-not-be-named won’t even appear in this article – I promise!). With this being possibly the last NFL season, with a lockout looming, I think it’s about time I reached out to the football community and show that not all hockey fans are Canadian-dwelling, poutine-eating men.

Peyton Manning Contract Year

The NFL’s best player (yeah, I said it) is due for a big raise from his current contract that pays him rather nicely.  Colts owner Jim Irsay already said in an ESPN interview (http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/playoffs/2009/news/story?id=4881625) that he wants to make the four-time league MVP the NFL’s highest-paid player. Whether he wants to or simply has to is another story – but regardless, all football fans can agree on Manning’s talent and success.

Having never missed a game since he was drafted first overall by the Indianapolis Colts in 1998, Manning has surpassed the 4,000-yard mark nine times in his career and has passed for over 30 touchdowns five times, including a 49-touchdown season in 2004 that was an NFL record, before being broken by New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Manning has thrown for over 50,000 career yards and over 360 touchdowns – and has a career passer rating of 95.2. Oh yeah, he’s won a Super Bowl, too.

In any sport, athletes often have career years in the final year of their contract, due to the fact that a solid final season will cause a huge raise in their salary and financial security for the next three centuries. But to be honest, if Manning hasn’t yet had his career year, then football fans everywhere should simply get down on their knees and pray for mercy.

Rookie Sensations – Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow, Ndamukong Suh, Jimmy Clausen, Colt McCoy and more

In recent memory, there have not been so many potentially superstar players coming out of a single NFL Draft. This year, though, there could be 15 rookies who could turn out to be dominant and star players for the next decade. Included in that are Sam Bradford, Ndamukong Suh, Jimmy Clausen, Tim Tebow, Colt McCoy, Dez Bryant and more. Bradford will be under the microscope due to his shoulder problems, but most likely has the talent to succeed in the big leagues. Suh is one of the biggest, meanest, talented young defensive tackles I’ve ever seen. Clausen and McCoy have great talent, but many scouts and fans are wary on what they will be able to do in the NFL. Tim Tebow intrigues me because of his unique talent, his athleticism and his desire to succeed in whatever he does. Lastly, Dez Bryant may be the steal of the draft, late in the first round and could help Dallas get past that playoff barrier.

Donovan McNabb and Mike Shanahan in Washington

If there’s one thing I’ve seen being in close proximity to the Philadelphia Eagles and Lincoln Financial Field, it’s Donovan McNabb. And regardless of how much Eagles fans bitch and moan about the Pro Bowl QB, he is indeed something special. Though hampered by injuries for his entire career, he has great talent and has passed for almost 30,000 yards in his career. Many analysts call him a sure thing for the Hall of Fame, while in this writer’s opinion, he may be just on the fence. He has yet to win the big game, but he sure showed his leadership and playmaking abilities in Philadelphia. He made those around him better and was even made better (contrary to popular belief) by controversial wide receiver Terrell Owens.

Now being in Washington for the Redskins, he will have the honor of playing for Super Bowl-winning coach Mike Shanahan, whose career .616 winning percentage in Denver shows just how talented and successful the famous head coach is. Together, the two should be able to create magic as brilliant as, if not more than, McNabb and Eagles coach Andy Reid created in the City of Brotherly Love.

New York Jets

Last season, quarterback Mark Sanchez showed his abilities with an impressive rookie showing. This season, with star cornerback Darelle Revis (hopefully) suiting up again for the team and with numerous additional weapons in running back LaDanian Tomlinson and wide receiver Santonio Holmes, among others. Though the team is a bit short on the offensive and defensive lines, they seem to have the tools needed to make a run for the AFC playoffs. The Jets should be one of the most exciting teams to watch this season – specifically when head coach Rex Ryan gets mad. I mean, come on, who doesn’t love to watch Ryan make a fool of himself?

Ochocinco and Ochouno with Muchodrama

Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens are two of the best wide receivers of the era. Together, they have combined for almost 25,000 receiving yards, almost 1,700 receptions and over 200 touchdowns. They are two of the most controversial receivers in the league – but that is not why I’m excited. Muchodrama? Oh, no. Not the drama when one claims the other is getting thrown at too much. I’m talking about the drama when teams have no idea which one to cover, then watches as the other catches a long pass and runs it in for a TD. Though Owens has been called “over the hill” and “out of his prime,” I have a tough time believing he doesn’t have enough left in the tank for one more go, specifically with quarterback Carson Palmer and Chad Ochocinco on the same field. The duo should also create some incredible touchdown celebrations – which will be worth, in this author’s prediction – over $100,000 in NFL fines by the Super Bowl.

Hey, I’d pay for it.

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