Loyal readers, take a breath. We are almost there. The forty-fourth Super Bowl lies but four laborious days ahead. Come Sunday evening in Miami, arguably the longest fortnight on the sporting calendar will finally come to a much anticipated end. But unfortunately, that end marks the onset of one of the other most arduous stints on the sporting calendar: football offseason. For seven character-building months, our weekends and Mondays will be bereft of the pigskin. And worse, NFL related story lines -- merely a tease -- will irrevocably still dominate the headlines, only exacerbating our football depravity. Sure, there are many other offerings worth garnering our interest besides the glory of the gridiron (as detailed in my 2010 prospectus: Part 1 & Part 2), but without football, the world of sports is a less lively locale. That, no one can deny. Sigh. Now I'm getting all verklempt. Moving on.
Just as marathon runners must battle the beast of exhaustion, so too must all football fans battle the beast of the dreadful Super Bowl bye-week. Though not as soul-crushing as the offseason, it is still an insufferable stretch in which every story, yarn, and anecdote that bears the slightest hint of relevance to the big game gets beaten to death worse than a piñata at fat camp (that, my friends, is the very definition of a Rick Reilly joke -- my apologies, I couldn't help myself). Although your eyes and ears are undoubtedly nearing their respective saturation points with the interminable bye-week media coverage (in case you haven't heard, the Colts and Saints are playing this year), I urge you to fight through the pain and peruse my appraisal of Super Bowl XLIV as well. For those of you who simply cannot subject themselves to another ounce of pre-Super Bowl tedium, I'm sure you will find this to be a welcome change of pace. For the rest of you, kindly press on.