When you know it's football season

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

True story: I looked across the street Sunday to see an NFL referee standing on my neighbor's driveway. A closer look revealed the ref's identity. It was Ed Hochuli, biceps and all. The cardboard cutout stood next to a giant inflatable beer can. Men wearing NFL jerseys began showing up a short time later. This could mean only one thing: fantasy-football draft time is here and, by extension, the start of the NFL season.

A similar scene prevailed at the local restaurant I visited later in the evening. Men wearing NFL jerseys filled the banquet rooms. Jerseys representing Peyton Manning, Howie Long, Lofa Tatupu and Marcus Trufant were among those I spotted. The recent Vikings-Cowboys exhibition game replayed on flat-screen monitors. That was better than nothing, but no substitute for the real thing.

The NFC West teams kick off Sunday:

  • Seattle at Buffalo, 1 p.m. ET

  • St. Louis at Philadelphia, 1 p.m. ET

  • Arizona at San Francisco, 4:15 p.m. ET

We took a quick look at the Bills and Eagles this morning. I'll be covering the Cardinals-49ers game from Candlestick Park.