For fans of the NFL, itâ€™s the final moments of nothingness. July marks the month where things finally start to build up, training camps will open, and it becomes safe to watch ESPN and listen to the radio again.
Seriously, have you tried to pay attention to sports these days? Itâ€™s horrendous. Itâ€™s mostly back-up hosts talking about the NBA, where players can literally be traded just so they can be cut by their new team, like swapping piles of garbage. Whereâ€™s LeBron going in 2018? Will Paul George still go to Lakers next year? These discussions put the â€śidleâ€ť in â€śidle speculation.â€ť
In the NFL, the draft is done, free agency is finished and the rookie camps are over. NFL teams look pretty much like theyâ€™ll look for opening day, so we can all start making our predictions.
The top 3/5/10 rankings are a tradition. A lot of sports writers regularly rank their best teams, which is a truly useless endeavor. The best teams always prove themselves over the entire course of the season. Besides, itâ€™s always the same three or four teams, with a new one rotating in every week for the sake of controversy.
For example, my Top 5? Patriots, Steelers, Raiders, Falcons, Buccaneers.
See? Four you agree with and one where you want to have me committed. Thatâ€™s an easy column, and any sports guy could write it for web hits, angry tweets and the occasional angry Facebook message that starts â€śYour so stupid!â€ť
Luckily, I have my social media set up to automatically block messages from anyone who doesnâ€™t know how to use an apostrophe - itâ€™s youâ€™re - which is likely why I never found out about the last Carthage high school reunion.
Anyone can speculate about the best. Iâ€™d rather talk about emotion. I love to discuss desperation, and the feelings that only being a hopeless sports fan can invoke.
Look at Cubs fans last year. Red Sox fans a decade ago. Cleveland fans in general. Thereâ€™s not a better story in sports than the long-standing desperate fan base finally hitting the big time, and being rewarded with a championship.
Think about it this way. If youâ€™re a Patriots fan, any season without a Super Bowl ring is a waste. If youâ€™re a fan of the Jaguars, any season where your team plays more than six games in the continental United States is a win.
There are some teams that have beaten their fan bases down for so long, any positive reinforcement whatsoever would be a miracle. So with that in mind, here are my preseason rankings - of the most desperate fans in football.
No. 5 Houston â€“ This seems like a strange one because Houston is a recurring playoff team, but one that can only beat backup quarterbacks. They are so good on defense and so bad on offense, it seems like their locker room should tilt to one side like a seesaw. If a Texans game was a rock concert, their defense would be the big anthem that everyone stands up and cheers for, while the offense would be the song off the new album that sends everyone to the bathroom and concession stands. Texans fans are now hiding undercover as Astros fans.
No. 4 Buffalo â€“ The Bills arenâ€™t bad. They arenâ€™t good either, they exist in that area between six and nine wins, where youâ€™re not good enough to make the playoffs and not bad enough to get a good draft pick. As a reminder, the Bills have still not made the playoffs in a year that begins with the number â€ś2.â€ť
No. 3 Cincinnati â€“ The Bengals certainly arenâ€™t a bad team, but theyâ€™re not exactly a good team either. Losing five straight times in the Wild Card round in embarrassing fashion will wreck a fanbase. Cincinnati sports fans have come to expect the worst at the biggest moments, and the Bengals always come through for them.
No. 2 New York Jets - The Jets are in â€śrebuilding mode.â€ť That means theyâ€™re rebuilding on purpose this year, as opposed to the last five years, where they were just losing accidentally.
No. 1 Cleveland â€“ And of course, the Browns. I like some of the moves the Browns have made, but mostly because when youâ€™re hopeless, any idea sounds like a good one. Maybe theyâ€™ll be better this year, if only because theyâ€™ve averaged four wins a season for the past six years. That means anything over a 25 percent success rate could be judged as an overwhelming success. Their fan base is exhausted and beaten down, and Browns season tickets have an ad for the Suicide Hotline printed on the back of them.
But at least at the games, they can talk about how good last yearâ€™s Cavalier team was.
- Reid Kerr talks a lot, as his wife always reminds him. Reidâ€™s second book, â€śI Hate It Here: A Love Story,â€ť is out now on Amazon.com. You can always tweet questions, comments, and angry messages to him at @reidaboutit.