Your alarm goes off, waking you to the old Hank Williams Jr. cry, "Are you ready for some football?" Of course you are. The NFL has made sure that you are always ready for some football, because the league is with you everywhere, all the time. Even now, in the off-season of 2014, the NFL isn't just in your thoughts; it has moved into your brain and built a house with a two-car garage.
As you get dressed your smartphone vibrates, thanks to the NFL app that alerts you whenever a new mock draft is posted by anyone anywhere. There was a time when NFL reporters took one shot at predicting the draft each year. Then they began to put out versions 2.0 and 3.0. Now fans also create their own mock drafts, and even though no one in the history of human existence has ever correctly predicted the entire first round, you feel good about your latest effort, version 246.0. You check your phone, eager to see whether this new entry, from a blogger in Boise, has that USC offensive tackle going to the Bills at No. 10 or the Cardinals at No. 13. You are concerned about this even though you would not know the kid if he walked into your bedroom at this very moment and chop-blocked you.
You're driving to work, listening to the Tim Tebow Channel. The satellite station broadcasts play-by-play of the quarterback's greatest moments on a continuous loop, interspersed with Tebow's reading Biblical passages and sound bites from his best locker room speeches. It gets you pumped up in the morning, which wouldn't be a problem except that everyone in the marketing department is getting tired of your sprinting down the hall, head-butting them and yelling, "Let's go!" and "God bless" on the way to your office.
After making sure the boss can't see your computer monitor, you switch to the site that's live-streaming the latest NFL-uniform fashion show. You remember the one in 2012, when after weeks of anticipation, the new uniforms were revealed to be almost identical to the old ones, but this time there's buzz about a major change: Anonymous sources are indicating that the pirate on the Raiders' logo might have his eye patch switched from the left to the right. You hope all the major networks will interrupt regularly scheduled programming if it happens, because coverage otherwise would be restricted to ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, ESPN HD, ESPN2 HD, ESPN3 HD, ESPN Classic, ESPN International, ESPNEWS, ESPN Radio, ESPNU, ESPN.com, WatchESPN, ESPN the Magazine, ESPN Video on Demand and ESPN Mobile Web.
You complete your online purchase of tickets to NFL Combine: The Musical. The Broadway production has drawn rave reviews, especially for Neil Patrick Harris, who dons a fat suit to play the role of Jets coach Rex Ryan and belts out the showstopper, a reworked tune from West Side Story, to a chorus line of prospective draft picks:
When you're a Jet you're a Jet all the way
And your only regret
Is your QBs can't play.
When you're a Jet, kid, you act like a king
Though you never quite get
That promised Super Bowl ring....
During your lunch break, you read about the status of commissioner Roger Goodell's bid for the presidency in 2016. The NFL Party was formed when the league unsuccessfully lobbied Congress to pass legislation changing the term off-season to alternative entertainment period. Goodell has promised to end home TV blackouts and make all games available on free TV in every market. He's leading in the latest polls.
You get home just in time to watch a special on NFL Network. After seeing ESPN build a three-hour show around the mere announcement of the 2012 schedule, the league now offers analysts going game by game, speculating on which end zone each team is likely to defend if it wins the coin toss. A 20-minute discussion examines whether the Patriots will defer until the second half at Cincinnati in Week 4. Ratings are through the roof.
During dinner you discover a new TV show in which veteran players reminisce about the day they took the NFL's aptitude test—The Wonderlic Years. That's followed by The Free Agent, a reality show in which the best unsigned quarterback is wooed by teams hoping to stay in the running for his services for another week. The viewing audience is still buzzing over the previous episode, when this year's leading man told the Dolphins they were a really nice franchise, but he just felt more of a physical attraction to the Seahawks.
You wake up in a cold sweat. You were having a nightmare that the NFL actually went away from February to August, leaving six months to fill with culture, family and outdoor activities. You flip on a show about tailgating menus on the NFL Cooking Channel to calm your nerves so you can go back to sleep. Hank Jr. will be calling to you soon, and you want to be ready for some football.
THE NFL HAS MADE SURE YOU ARE READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL. IT ISN'T JUST IN YOUR THOUGHTS; IT HAS MOVED INTO YOUR BRAIN AND BUILT A HOUSE WITH A TWO-CAR GARAGE.