February starts out so well for diehard fans of the National Football League. Super Bowl week wraps up, and that week may, if certain powerful individuals have their way in the future, occur even later on in the month several years from now. Then, of course, comes the big game itself, the best single yearly professional sports event in all of North America. More and more people watch the Super Bowl with every year, and that trend is not going away anytime soon. While 2014 was definitely a rough year for the NFL off of the field, nobody can deny that the popularity of the sport is as high as it has ever been.
All good things must, as the saying goes, come to an end, and that is the case for every NFL season in February. Pro football goes back on the shelf for nearly half of a year every February, leaving a gap in the lives of those who wait all week for Sunday throughout the fall and throughout January. Those who are not NFL crazy may scoff at the notion, but make no mistake about it. The post-NFL blues are real, and they strike every Monday after the Super Bowl. It is a big reason why sports talk radio programs continue to talk about the Super Bowl up to five days after the final horn has blown on a NFL campaign.
There is no one replacement for the NFL if you are a passionate follower of the league. Nothing, after all, can compare with the excitement and entertainment provided by the NFL RedZone channel. The show must, however, go on, and diving into other sports and other activities can fill the void that is created by a lack of football on television and inside of stadiums on a weekly basis. Depressed football fans missing the sport must also remember that the NFL is a league that truly has no offseason. You don’t even have to wait until the end of February before a meaningful NFL event is featured live on television.
15. Prepare for and Watch the NFL Scouting Combine
The NFL has done well to brilliantly market and promote the league’s scouting combine as a television event for fans. What used to be something that you would read about either in the newspaper or on a blog is now covered by multiple TV networks over several days, and fans of teams that have high draft picks follow the combine as if it was an actual meaningful game. One thing that is great about the combine is that it occurs only weeks after the Super Bowl is played, and thus you do not have to wait long until live football action is back and available to you. God bless America.
14. Get Hyped for the Daytona 500
So you say that you are not a fan of racing. I get that. The Daytona 500 is not your standard NASCAR race. It is the so-called Super Bowl of the sport, the biggest single event in all of auto racing. Unless you live in an area where NASCAR is the most popular sport in that region, you likely will not be able to get a group of friends together to watch a race; except on Daytona 500 Sunday. The Daytona 500 often takes place on the Sunday right after the Super Bowl, making it an immediate replacement for those NFL games that you get used to watching from September through early February.
13. Hit up the Gym
Beer. Wings. Potato chips. Pizza. Nachos. Think back to all of the junk that you put inside of your body over the five months of the NFL regular season. Odds are that you doubled your money on Super Bowl Sunday, when pregame shows and at-home and at-the-bar tailgates kick off at noon. The offseason is the perfect time to undo the damage that you did while watching football, and getting in Sunday workouts can get you ready for those summer months that involve trips to the beach. A bonus is that some gyms are relatively empty on Sunday afternoons during the winter, spring and summer months.
12. NBA All-Star Festivities
The NBA fully embraces the absurdity that is an All-Star Game, which makes that league’s version of the weekend the best of any of the top-four North American pro sports leagues. There is the ridiculous Celebrity All-Star Game. The skills competitions, most notably the three-point contest and the dunk contest, are throwbacks to the days of Michael Jordan and Craig Hodges. There is little to no defense played in the actual All-Star Game. The weekend is all about fun, and nobody tries to convince fans that anything related to the NBA All-Star Game actually matters. Take a lesson from the NBA, NFL and Major League Baseball.
11. Join a Recreational League
Big cities and small towns alike offer a variety of different recreational leagues that allow you to get into and stay in shape, enjoy some competition with some peers, make new friendships, and get out of the house on Sundays until the NFL is back on your TV. Flag football. Indoor and outdoor basketball. Softball. Even kickball and cycling are available in some regions. Ask your friends and/or use the marvel of the Internet to find the closest rec leagues to where you live. Maybe you will even meet your soulmate while you are running down the field or hooping it up.
10. Get into the LPGA and PGA
Both the LPGA an PGA Tours have meaningful events that take place the week after the Super Bowl, so you do not have to wait long to pick your favorite golfers for the ongoing seasons. Gone are the days of having to wait until Saturday and Sunday to watch live golf on television. The Golf Channel airs live and taped LPGA, PGA and European PGA events on weekdays and weekends throughout those seasons. Sure, it appears as if Tiger Woods will never again be the great player that he once was. That just means you need to find a new talented golfer to follow.
9. Take up Golf
Golf can be a frustrating sport for both beginners and for those who have been involved in the sport for years. It can also, however, be a rewarding game once you get the hang of it. Indoor golf facilities allow you to work on your swing and also stay fresh during the cold winter months. Some outdoor courses, depending on where you live, open as early as March, giving you the opportunity to golf for at least seven months before those courses close up shop. There are not many better ways to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon than out on a beautiful course watching your friends shank drives into bunkers.
8. Take Care of Chores
Your car has needed an oil change for months. The house could probably use some new gutters. You have been meaning to paint the spare bedroom but just haven’t been able to get around to doing so during the NFL regular season. Now, with football off of the radar for months, you can finally get to all of those jobs that you have been putting off because you had to leave your Sundays open to watch football for ten hours. Get done with all of those tasks during the offseason, and your football Sundays will be all about football without you feeling as if you should be doing something else.
7. Take a Cooking Class
I can hear the scoffing at this suggestion through my computer speakers. Do not be so quick to brush this idea off. Wouldn’t it be a nice feeling to know that your friends want you to be the guy who either hosts or brings the best food to your football parties? There are, after all, only so many ways that you can dress up a plate of nachos or make chicken fingers. Cooking classes can improve your football-watching experience, especially if you are somebody who does not feel comfortable inside of the kitchen outside of using your microwave or heating up some macaroni and cheese on your stove.
6. Fantasy Baseball
I legitimately had a fantasy baseball email waiting for me on the Monday morning following the Super Bowl. Websites wisely take advantage of the end of the NFL regular season by offering different fantasy baseball drafts in early February, even before pitchers and catchers report for the start of spring training. Those of you who do not wish to have to check your fantasy football lineups every night during the long campaign can look forward to those daily fantasy baseball competitions, ones that offer cash prizes, that will pop up in the spring once the season gets underway.
5. Winter Sports
The end of the NFL regular season presents you with at least a month to head outside and enjoy any of the winter sports that are available to you based upon where you live. Those who reside near a winter resort can get in several hours of skiing, snowboarding, tubing and even relaxing in an outdoor hot tub while the weather outside is frightful. Away from a resort and/or looking to save some money? Sledding is fun for all ages, and those of you who are particularly daring can seek out the steepest hills and bring back memories of how you would spend snow days when your school remained closed.
4. College Basketball
You know that you are going to fill out a March Madness bracket at your work, online, and among friends for – ahem – credits only, of course. It wouldn’t hurt you to have some knowledge of the teams that will be competing in what is the best sports tournament on the planet. Live college basketball airs every day of the week during February, including on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, and the top teams in the nation that will be playing in elimination games come March will be featured on television throughout the weekends in February. Take notes, and win your bracket challenges.
There is live soccer featured on television every Sunday of the year. Major League Soccer takes care of your sports needs from March through the end of October until the league’s playoffs begin. The English Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A and other competitions are well underway once the Super Bowl comes around. You may, depending on that league(s) that you want to follow, have to purchase at least one sports station to watch all of the soccer that you want. It is well worth the money spent if you want to follow the best footballers on the planet.
2. Amazon Prime/Netflix
Not really feeling any other sport out there with the NFL not on TV? No worries. Sign up for Amazon Prime and/or Netflix, and you can catch up on the shows and movies that you ignored for months while your TV was stuck on NFL Network and on live football games. What is convenient about Netflix is that you can, if you wish, obtain monthly subscriptions, allowing you to cancel the service once live football returns. Amazon Prime provides you with streaming movies and shows AND also free shipping on purchases that you make through Amazon. If only those services had replays of NFL games. Maybe one day.
1. The Draft!
It is the biggest event of the pro football offseason, one that has become a sensation that airs live on two different stations across several days. You do not have to wait until April/May for the excitement of the NFL Draft. Mock drafts are posted on websites every month of the year, and insiders begin speculating on what teams are allegedly scouting what players even before the Super Bowl is played. The NFL Draft is the bridge that connects the end of the regular season to training camp and the start of the next campaign, and it is, in its own way, must-watch TV for the diehard football fan.