SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The NFL’s league year began on Wednesday. Here’s a fan’s guide on what to expect over the next 12 months:
• March: You can’t fathom why your team hasn’t signed more big-name free agents. This bothers you to no end. You tweet something creative like: “Is the GM asleep?! Does he know free agency started?!” You read a post from some guy who calls himself NFLDraftDemon8 who has it on good authority that your team is head over heels for the top free agent available and then forward it to a reporter asking him/her if this is true. (It isn’t.)
• April: The NFL schedule is released. You note that your team must travel to its arch enemy’s place the week after a Monday night game. This is unassailable proof that the league schedule makers have it in for your team, always have.
• May: Organized team activities begin, but your team’s top draft pick can’t attend because his university is still in session. You will think that is absolutely ridiculous. I mean, the guy already has a job! Why does he need to stay in school?! You begin composing an angry, but in your estimation, very well-reasoned, email.
• June: Your team holds its first full-squad minicamp. A couple of players have reported in the best shape of their lives. You think 11 wins is reasonable.
• July: Training camp begins. One or two key players start the session on the non-football injury list. You vaguely recall this term from previous years but can’t quite remember what it means.
• August: You religiously read every training-camp report you can find. At least one of the 90 players looks good every day. You think that perhaps your prediction for an 11-win season wasn’t optimistic enough.
• September: Your favorite player from the preseason is in danger of not making the 53-man squad and you think that surely another team — probably the frickin’ Seahawks — will snap him up. Cut Anthony Armcannon?! What?! Are they insane?! Armcannon passes safely through waivers and spends the season on six different teams’ practice squads. In the spring he signs with the Montreal Alouettes.
• October: The trade deadline nears. You concoct a scenario in which your team winds up with Aaron Rodgers AND Ezekiel Elliott and send it to your favorite reporter asking for a comment.
• November: Your team is 2-7 but there’s a sweet stretch between Weeks 11 and 15 in which they have a great chance of running the table. You punctuate all of your tweets with the hashtag #dontstopbelievin’
• December: You Google: Who are top picks in upcoming draft?
• January: Your team fires its head coach. A commenter named MagikDragon49 on the fan site says he saw Bill Cowher in a local Chevy’s and your heart starts racing.
• February: The Super Bowl is over, there’s no football and you’re a bit depressed. But you think: Free agency begins next month with the new league year. My team definitely will be active.
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