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Why quiet period is good for NFL, and us

7/7/2014

Flip channels Sunday night and you might have stumbled across NBC's broadcast of "Miley Cyrus: Bangerz Tour."

I was alerted to it, as I am to so much in life these days, by Twitter. And so I took a gander, you know, just to be up on what kids in America would be talking about on Monday after the big holiday weekend.

While any snapshot might have served to characterize the two-hour event, I felt I hit the jackpot as I saw Cyrus dancing around with a giant orange ostrich-like puppet. Snuffleupagus' cousin, perhaps?

The reaction of the non-target audience was one Twitter frequently shares in similar situations: Too bad it's not football season. Boy it'd be nice to have a football game on right now. Wow, look at the stuff a network needs to turn to in the Sunday Night Football time slot out of season.

Year-round football, or anything close to it, is not in the realm of possibility, but only because man has physical limitations. If the league and the networks could make it happen, a group that has already stretched the one-game a week for 17 weeks formula into Thursdays and off to London would do more. The game just isn't elastic enough to get it to Wednesday nights, or to July Fourth weekend.

At TV moments that don't suit us, we often default to wishing the NFL was present. This time of year, however is the stretch -- the only stretch really -- where it's absent in every form. Pine as we might, we must acknowledge that six weeks without the NFL is a good thing. (I know, there was a news dump of performance enhancing drug suspensions the night before the holiday weekend. I'm just not counting it.)

Yielding to Cyrus only helps increase the craving.

The NFL wants to have a constant presence on the sporting calendar. Let's be honest, “sporting calendar” pretty much translates to “calendar.”

The national holiday of the Super Bowl spilled over into February a dozen years ago already.

Despite our objections, the league moved the draft from April to May in part because it believes event spacing improved. We obliged by giving them the requisite additional hype and build-up to the event that is likely now to become a road show and stay put in its new month.

So we've got camps and the preseason in late July and August, the regular season from September into January, the playoffs from January to that February Super Bowl and the combine at the end of February, begging now to be moved to March.

April is draft hype month, and May is the draft and rookie arrival with organized team activities and minicamps as tent poles for the league in May and June.

Then, graciously, coaches and executives are permitted to see their families and visit a beach and read a book. For a month or six weeks, the dimmer switch is dialed down. Rookie contracts, once a big deal, are now structured by the CBA in a way that takes the intrigue out of whether everyone will be signed in time for camp.

The media does its duty, providing you with camp previews and lists -- oh, it's list season in a big way. I'm voting in a player-ranking project right now.

What can the league do to own July, I wondered? Surely it is watching the World Cup and thinking, on some level, about how it can yield to futbol when so many yearn for football.

But the fact is, even the NFL can't stretch something into its summer dead period to give it some life.

And the quiet is good.

Twitter loads up with countdowns to the opening of training camp and the kickoff of meaningless, but pricey, preseason games.

We think a bit about our fantasy drafts as the big questions that have been put on hold grow while the pause button is pressed: Can the young quarterback blossom? Is the cornerback's ACL healed? Will the new coach be more inventive? How will the draft pick change things for the better?

It all hovers, and we have to wait.

In the quiet month, the NFL still creates and markets, including creating and marketing anticipation.

We’re in the midst of five weeks that amount to dusk on the Fourth of July. We wait for the sky to turn black so it can be lit with football fireworks, bright lights on our TVs that are sure to trump a grown up Hannah Montana in sparkly outfits, dancing with a puppet.