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The Offseason: The Wisdom Teeth of the NFL Season

By Mark Solway | May 17th, 2006

I had my wisdom teeth taken out some years ago. It wasn’t fun. One particular tooth was especially stubborn, and refused to budge. My dentist had to break it apart by whacking it with what looked like a nail set, and then basically kneeled on my chest to yank the parts out one by one. I went home, loaded myself up with Codine, stuffed some tea bags in my mouth, and passed out. Not my most favorite day so far. As long, painful and uncomfortable as that procedure was, it pales in comparison to the long, painful and uncomfortable NFL offseason. What’s worse is that the offseason seems to happen every year, so it’s almost like having your wisdom teeth pulled every May. Sure, there’s stuff to keep us busy, but does any of it really feed the habit? I think not. Instead, the offseason events just make me hunger for real football all the more. Everyone who knows anything about football knows that the Redskins own the free agency period. I think when the idea of free agency was first introduced to the NFL, you could hear a faint ‘Yes!!!!’ from whatever town Dan Snyder grew up in. It was created for him, it seems. But the free agency period for Redskin fans is like being able to unwrap your Christmas presents, but being forbidden from playing with them until August. What’s the point? In those long months, we’re forced to stare at our new toys, and wonder, ‘How the heck does this thing work?’ And there’s the draft. I used to watch the draft, way back when the Redskins actually used their draft picks on……draft picks. Now, I usually just check the Internets on Sunday night, to see what future stars we’ve picked in the fourth round. To make matters worse, I don’t even follow college football, so the names mean nothing to me. And then there’s the OTAs………*snork* hunh? Wha? Sorry, I dozed off there. Even the abbreviation for the ‘Organized Team Activities’ puts me to sleep. So it doesn’t even count. Away from football, there’s the baseball season, which is a decent distraction. And I hear that the NBA will now just pull the trigger and extend the season to a full 12 months, since they were so close to it anyway. But, way back in the depths of your mind, you know that these distractions are superficial. That they’ll never succeed in keeping you entertained and satisfied until those glorious August days. In my brooding over the offseason, and these teasers and feeble distractions, I got to thinking about this particular offseason. And while any offseason is long and unpleasant, it began to occur to me that maybe this offseason isn’t so bad. I’ve been through my fair share of offseasons, and there have been some bad ones. If you’ve been a ‘skins fan for more than a few years, you know what I’m talking about. I still can’t hear the words ‘Deion Sanders’ without feeling a bit nauseous. I tried to have hope during the Norv and Spurrier eras, but deep down, I think I knew what was coming. But really, what’s so horrible about this particular offseason? We have a few areas of question, sure, what team doesn’t? Our coaching staff is arguably the best in the league, and, better yet, they’re committed to being here indefinitely. Our defense was one of the best in the league last year, and I think they’ve only gotten better, despite the loss of Lavar Arrington. The biggest question on offense, besides whether or not Mark Brunell can make it through a full season, is whether we can spread the ball enough to the plethora of playmakers we now have to keep them all happy. Not a bad problem to have. We must have something to talk about during the offseason, so we discuss Brunell’s age, and the depth along the offensive line, and the impact that an Arrington-free defense can have on other teams. Some are even brave enough to talk about Super Bowl XLI. The one thing we don’t talk about is whether or not we’ll make it to .500 this year. Or whether or not the coach should be fired (at least, those of us that are sane don’t discuss it). Or whether our quarterback has enough leadership ability to take this team deep into the season. We don’t talk about those things because we don’t need to. That’s a nice feeling. We actually have it pretty good. So maybe this offseason isn’t so bad, I think I’ve convinced myself. I don’t have to wonder if the Redskins will compete this year, if they’ll leave it all on the field every game. I don’t have to wonder, speculate, or even hope. Because I know . And knowing makes life that much better during this long, cold offseason. Of course, if I was given the option of loading up on Codine, stuffing tea bags in my mouth, and passing out until August, I’d take it a…

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