The official Survival Guide for the NFL offseason

Super Bowl XLIV is in the books.  The last drops of Gatorade have been devoured.  The last few strips of confetti have been swept away.  And if you’re like me, you’re already longing for the sound of helmets cracking, first down measurements and touchdown dances.  But in the immortal words of Thomas Haynes Bayly, “absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

Even though the combine is just nine days away, and free agency and the draft are a little further down the street, we have to find creative ways to take our minds off the pigskin and focus our attention to other things.  So I’ve compiled a Survivor’s Guide to dealing with NFL withdrawl.

1.  Check out the 2010 Winter Olympics.

I find this one might be the toughest sell to people.  Heck, I’ve seen more promos for the 2010 World Cup than I have for the Winter Olympics but that doesn’t mean they’re not worth while.  These are some of the best athletes each country has to offer, not to mention the most courageous.  Imagine flying around an ice sheet at 90 mph on a glorified snow sled.  Or skiing downhill at 70 mph, flying off a ramp and soaring through the air.  I’m a hockey guy so I’ll be excited when the US takes the ice Tuesday, but I’ll also be watching events such as downhill skiing, luging and long and short track speed skating.  If you’re looking for an event to check out, you can’t go wrong with bobsleding.  Take a glance at curling.  I find it curiously intriguing myself.

2. Start paying attention to college basketball, if you haven’t already.

We are just about a month away from the greatest three weeks in all of sports.  There’s nothing else quite like March Madness.  Now is the perfect time to check out the games on Big Monday on ESPN or CBS during the weekend.  It’s never too early to get a jump on your brackets.  Be sure to check out ESPN’s resident bracketologist Joe Lunardi on ESPN.com for his complete breakdown of the field of 65 each week.  I recommend multiple copies and doing your projections in pencil.

3.  Reconnect with your family & friends. If you didn’t take phone calls or read your text messages during the playoffs, now’s a good time to begin to make ammends.  And odds are you’ve got a lot of making up to do.  Keep the pots and pans in the cabinets and treat your spouse or significant other to a night out.  Pack up the kids and head over to grandma’s.  It’s time to resurface and reconnect with loved ones, and you can’t do it parked on the couch in front of the television.  Pick up telephone instead of the remote.

4.  Work on your ‘To-Do’ List. This is where that spur of the moment, gung-ho ambition will come back to bite you.  We’ve all got somewhere them, either on the refrigerator or on the computer desk.  And if you’re like me, you’ve got great intentions to finish your To-Do list.  It’s just that football has made it extremely difficult to cross things off.  Now we’re out of execuses.  It’s time to get crackin’.  If you don’t have a To-Do list, I’m sure all those New Year’s Resolutions haven’t been achieved yet.  Get after it!

5. Watch the NBA

The second half of the NBA season begins this week and there’s an awful lot to like if your a fan of the association.  Like for instance, those two guys in the photo above.  Arguably the game and the planet’s most popular players, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant have their respective teams, Cleveland and Los Angeles, atop the NBA.  But it’s not all about LeBron and Kobe.  The league has some of the games best and brightest stars.  With Superman, CP3, Rose, Durant, Melo, Bosh, and D-Wade the league is in fantastic hands.  Stay tuned for the much anticipated LeBron/Kobe NBA Finals.  Although Boston, Dallas, Denver and Orlando will have something to say about that.

6.  Get ready for baseball.

And they say there’s no offseason in the NFL!  It’s about that time once again.  They boys of summer are inching closer and closer to taking the field again.  Pitchers and catchers will begin to report for spring training this week, and the remaining position players will have until March 2nd to report.  The Yankees are aiming to repeat as World Series Champions.  The Phillies armed themselves with Roy Halladay and they’ll be seeking a third straight trip to the World Series.  Can either team be derailed?   Hope springs eternal and in this case it means great ballpark atmosphere, late inning heroics and warmer weather.

7.  Hobby time. Re-introduce yourself to those books you’ve been “meaning to read” that are either collecting dust or proping up the low end of the sofa.  If you’ve been mulling over the whole, “I’m-finally-going-to-get-in-shape” idea, now’s the perfect time to hit the gym.  And if the tv show Lost is your post football hangover remedy, by all means now’s the time to indulge especially with this being the series finale.

8.  Let the tv wash over you. There’s something for everyone on tv.  If you’re a reality show buff, American Idol, Amazing Race and The Biggest Loser your cup of tea.  Two and a Half Men and How I Met Your Mother provied terrific comedic relief after a hard day’s work.  Interested in playing detective?  You can do so vicariously through CSI (pick any of the three), Criminal Minds or White Collar.

9.  If you have to indulge in football, do so in moderation.

I suggest this as an absolute last resort. If you find yourself with the football itch that you must scratch, procede with caution.  Mock draft databases, ESPN’s upcoming coverage of the NFL Scouting Combine, and the NFL Network (for those who have it) provide much needed relief for the football junkies.


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