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Monday, March 4
The Indiana Daily Student

sports

Column: Ode to the offseason

This past week in this space, I wrote about how welcome and refreshing the start of baseball season is this year, and I stand by that.

Let’s be honest. Football runs the sports agenda in this country, and this is the time when fans realize it’s gone.

Perhaps it is this constant need, this American craving that makes that sport’s professional offseason the best there is, its intrigue coming from its constant coverage. Either way, no other sport captivates fans to such an extent in the offseason.

This year’s offseason kicked into high gear the past few days at the NFL Scouting Combine, a stadium-housed laboratory where future pros are poked and prodded, quizzed and questioned.

Two things fascinate me about the event. First, the principle behind the event assumes everything seen on the football field during his college career was a lie.
Just as easily as they can be used to supposedly confirm college performance, the tests are often seen as invalidations of a player’s accomplishments.

The amount of stock that can be placed on a workhorse running back’s slow 40-yard dash time is astounding, especially considering there is evidence of success and failure for both.

Second, the array of the storylines that materialize out of nowhere is interesting. Robert Griffin III’s jaw-dropping 40 time has become the NFL story of the day, making it a near certainty we will see the first trade of a top-three pick some time this year, or at the very least can look forward to nearly two months of speculation.

But people knew who Griffin was before this week. After all, he won the Heisman. The combine and draft season is just as much about unknown players quickly becoming household names. Dontari Poe seems to be this year’s example, but I’m sure others will soon emerge.

The NFL Draft is the crown jewel of the offseason, a three-day frenzy of player placement that embodies what the offseason is about: hope. Fans cannot help but envision their teams’ latest picks as new cornerstones. Some pan out. Others do not.

No other league handles the intersection between drafting and free agency as well.
The two are virtually independent of each other in baseball, while the NBA tacks its draft onto the end of the season before free agency. The NFL gives teams a chance to shore up their weaknesses with free agents or risk not getting their guys in the draft, a far more intriguing setup than in other leagues.

A riveting NFL offseason is more welcome this year than ever. This past year’s lockout deprived fans of the drama of the offseason, making a good one more necessary than ever, and thankfully, this is shaping up to be one.

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