I’ve been waiting for this week since February 5th, the day I felt my soul separate from my physical body as I watched Tom Brady engineer the most incredible comeback in Super Bowl history. I still have the Atlanta Falcons chili that I made for the game, freezer burned and petrified, as some sad reminder of what became of Atlanta that night in Houston. I can’t bring myself to throw it out. It’s become an inedible symbol of my grief.
But this week—oh, this week; the three words I’ve been longing to hear since The New England Patriots disposed of the Atlanta Falcons like a spoiled batch of chili are finally true: Football Is Back.
The 2017-2018 NFL campaign technically kicked into gear with last week’s snoozer of a Hall of Fame Game between the Cowboys and the Cardinals, but this week marks the first official slate of preseason games.
Fans are scouring Twitter for team news. Gamblin’ types are earmarking dues and setting draft dates for fantasy football leagues. All feels right in the world.
But how’s the outlook for the NFL?
As one of the most recognizable brands on the planet, the NFL is experiencing a bit of malaise of late. Amid shrinking ratings, negative news stories surrounding players, and an embattled commissioner who draws universal ire, the National Football League is mining for methods to reconfirm itself as the premiere sports league in the United States.
The solution? Touchdown celebrations.
The NFL announced in the offseason that it was relaxing the rules regarding touchdown celebrations, allowing players to better express themselves after getting on the scoreboard. If you’ve ever gone down a touchdown dance YouTube rabbit hole—think Chad Ochocinco with a Santa Claus bag, Terrell Owens mocking the Patriots for Spygate—you’ll agree that the NFL was simply more fun. It was a more entertaining product.
And with this rule change, the No Fun League is attempting to reinject the pure entertainment back into the sport alongside the bonkers feats of athleticism.
So, football fans, rejoice: snow angels and the Cha Cha Slide are back. We’ll see if this rule change will provide any kind of boost in viewership, but those who are glued to their televisions on Sundays regardless will absolutely appreciate it.