Brian Carriveau
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April 16 - The NFL Controls the Universe

The crown jewel of the football offseason is nearly here.  The countdown to the
NFL Draft is upon us.

You’ve been waiting weeks for this moment.  Actually, months.  Ever since
January when all but the two Super Bowl bound teams were eliminated from the
playoffs, you’ve been waiting to see how your team could improve itself prior to
next season.

Well, the wait is about over.  The moment is close at hand.  It’s just about the time
of year when you’ll spend more face-to-face with Mel Kiper Jr. than you will with
your family.

Thanks to the NFL, the excruciating wait for the Draft hasn’t been all that bad.  The offseason has
become a season in itself.  Once the Super Bowl and the Pro Bowl capped off the 2005 season, there
was still plenty of football talk to tide you over.

First there was the Combine in Indianapolis that really got the hot-stove talk off the ground.  Shortly
thereafter the free agency period started and remains underway to this very moment.  Then came the
moment when NFL teams started to release their preseason schedules, and fans started making
their summer travel plans around training camps.

But that’s not all.  A few days later the NFL released its 2006 season schedule, and people really
started getting serious about the upcoming year and their team’s prospectus.  The NFL owners’
meetings kept the fire burning where rule changes were implemented and deals were negotiated.  
And hey, there’s football being played over in Europe right now too.

This whole time you were intrigued by the NFL’s ability to strike a new collective bargaining
agreement.  That’s not to mention the excitement generated over the Dallas Cowboys’ signing of
Terrell Owens.  Then you remembered the biggest trade of the offseason was when ABC traded Al
Michael to NBC for Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.  And, of course, the Brett Favre saga continues.

Wow!  When did the NFL’s offseason become just as exciting as the regular season?  Those cats
over at the NFL’s league offices sure know a thing or two about marketing.  You’ve probably noticed
that they’ve even got their own television network now.

By the way, that was a pretty nifty move the way they were able to get regular season games on their
own network starting here in 2006.  They snuck that one right past the goalie.

Speaking of television coverage, the NFL is stepping into a new era when they introduce their new
flexible scheduling this season.  Now games slated for an afternoon kickoff can be slid into
primetime for maximum exposure.

Maybe you’ve even listened to NFL Radio on Sirius Satellite Radio.  Not even mentioned yet are the
traditional media outlets like ESPN providing all sorts of football coverage.  And football websites are
growing like wildfire all over the Internet with the advent of blogging and all.

So if you haven’t gotten your fix of football talk this offseason, it’s your own fault.  It’s almost
impossible to avoid.  Is the NFL taking over the world?  Lynn Swan is running for governor of
Pennsylvania.  And I hear Paul Tagliabue is retiring as commissioner of the NFL so that he can make
a run at President in 2008.
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