A while back, I commented on how baseball needed to take a cue from the NFL with regards to opening day; the NFL will make my point tomorrow night.
The NFL, in the midst of a giant class-action lawsuit, controversy surrounding player safety, and the fallout from the Bounty-gate scandal, will end all discussions on those topics for at least a few hours, as we all congregate to thank the football gods that the games actually count. The NFL realizes this, and puts more pomp into the opening game than the Democratic National Committee puts into their convention, and that’s saying something.
Seriously, just watch NFL Network; you know they advertise Thursday Night Football? The ads contain images of fireworks, jets flying overhead, and a crowd so energized that if the energy were harnessed, it would solve the energy crisis; most of the time, those images were from the NFL Kickoff game. You never see a game where the crowd is more alive, the game is more organic, and the teams more possessed with a desire to win, even once Sunday comes and the rest of the league plays out the rest of week one. Furthermore, the NFL realizes this, and has aptly selected the kickoff game for the past several years:
- 2010: Minnesota Vikings (coming off of their great season) vs. the New Orleans Saints (the defending Super Bowl champs who had knocked them out (no pun intended) of the playoffs the year before)
- 2011: New Orleans Saints vs. Green Bay Packers (defending Super Bowl champs)
- 2012: Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants (defending Super Bowl champs; Cowboys and Giants have one of the most heated rivalries of recent memory)
The NBA, NHL, and MLB can all take a cue from this; you don’t overwhelm the television audience with multiple games to celebrate the opening of the season; you pick a good game, between two good teams, at a place where the crowd is going to be rocking, and you put in a lot of razzle-dazzle. That’s the American way.
As for the game itself, I have the Giants winning a close one, 28-27.