Today, sometime after 6:30 PM Eastern Standard Time, the last NFL football game of the 2014-2015 season will begin. That would be game number 267 (and of course, I am not counting any preseason “games” or the Pro Bowl). During the course of what has been a rather tumultuous season for the league, thirty of the leagues thirty-two teams (and fans of those teams) have reported to a place no one wants to go. That place is what I call the “Loser’s Lounge.” Every year, 31 teams and their fans get a seat in the Lounge, and after tonight titanic contest between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks, the final team and fans will take its place.
Many of those teams have had good seasons, some have had bad seasons, but as it is said, even finishing second only makes you the first loser. As a reminder as to how the teams got there:
- Twenty teams (Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants, Washington Indigenous Persons, Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears, New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Francisco 49ers, St. Louis Rams, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, Cleveland Browns (version 2.0), Houston Texans, Tennessee Titans, Jacksonville Jaguars, San Diego Chargers, Kansas City Chiefs and the Oakland Raiders) all reported shortly after the last game of the regular season on December 28. Coaches of a few of those teams were relieved of their duties shortly thereafter.
- Four more teams (Arizona Cardinals, Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals and Detroit Lions) made their way in the following weekend.
- Four more teams (my Baltimore Ravens, Carolina Panthers, Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos) followed them the next weekend.
- The last two teams (Green Bay Packers and Indianapolis Colts) joined the others two weeks ago.
Which brings us to tonight. After two weeks of ceaseless drum-beating about #DeflateGate and #MarshawnSpeaks, with some sprinkles of meaningful football news about and around the big game in between, the day has finally arrived. Of course, it being the biggest game of the season, the day is overstuffed with countless hours of pregame (depending on where you watch there is at least six to nine hours of programming to get you ready), leading up to the spectacle that is Super Bowl XLIX (49). And while I hope for a good game, there is but one certainty: the loser will be the last team to check in to the Loser’s Lounge.
If you plan to watch, enjoy the game. If you are going to a party, have fun and behave responsibly. May the best team win.