For 18 of the 32 NFL teams, there are 348 days without football.
And that’s just too much time.
Too much time to gallantly scroll the witless wasteland of Twitter, engaging in unwinnable debates about whether a young player might be good in the future. Too much time antagonize other fan bases on Facebook or TikTok or Reddit or OnlyFans because, you know, their team stinks and your team doesn’t. Too much time to bemoan every free agent signing, no matter how little the investment, and study every draft “prospect”, even when 95% of those prospects have no chance of being a viable professional player.
It’s not the fault of the fans. Fans love football. But do they really love football that much more now than they did when the draft was held on weekend afternoons and when free agent signings were only known because you’d read about them in the paper a day or two after they happened? An overwhelming majority of NFL fans are not even on Twitter – a fact often forgotten by those of us who seem to spend our lives on the platform.
Truth is, there is now far too much media covering the sport (and sports generally) and that media is forced to operate on a 365-day calendar. There is no vacation from the clicks business. The newspapers need you to click and they’ve learned mock drafts are click gold. The Athletic needs new subscribers: that is their entire value proposition. CHGO needs to find their foothold in the marketplace. The only way to do these things is constant engagement. The only way to successfully engage is to launch “takes” into the sports atmosphere.
And my god, EVERYBODY HAS A PODCAST. LITERALLY, EVERYBODY. Well, there is one Bears-related entity that doesn’t have a podcast: me. “The Weekend Show” was fun to produce but it was always far more of an audio variety show than an actual Bears pod. (That sometimes sums up this entire enterprise.) I’ve been asked to do a podcast a hundred times. I’ve been asked why I don’t do a podcast two hundred. My answer is simple: I don’t have that much to say. And when I have something unique that requires my voice, I do one of those Twitter audio things and get it done in two minutes. Also, I’m not that interested in the stuff that doesn’t tangibly happen on the field.
You know, those other 348 days.
Anybody can open an audio app and talk. Opinions are everywhere. Not just anybody can stare down a blank white screen and fill it with decent (or better) sentences and have those sentences amount to a coherent point. That’s why I do this; for the opportunity to write and have that writing consumed immediately. The Chicago Bears just happen to be one of the things I’m passionate about.
The coach and GM hires were pivotal for the Bears. Covering those day-to-day, and being inside, was a lot of fun. But free agency is usually fool’s gold, the draft is a guessing game and preseason games are meaningless. The next time this sport is truly relevant again is in September, when they start keeping score.
Just as the players need an offseason, fans need a break too. There is too much consumption. (I recommend hanging here a bit and reading Adam Jahns and listening to his podcast with Hoge. That’s plenty.) For the sake of the discourse, or just the sake of general sanity, it’s sometimes good not to engage. Because despite the efforts of all these established and emerging outlets, there really isn’t that much going on right now.