It’s one of the worst days of the year, the first Sunday without football. After 22 weeks of fans watching NFL teams play the greatest sport there is, there now comes major depression that words cannot describe. Although there are no substantial games left to play for the next seven months, that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to look forward to.
The NFL has changed; it is now a league that holds fans attention for the entire year and many fans like to say there is no real off-season. With that in mind, here are some key dates to the off-season that fans can get excited about.
2015 February 17-23: The NFL Scouting Combine. This is now one of the highly events of the off-season. The television ratings for “underwear Olympics” go through the roof as potential draft picks go through a full battery of drills to test their skills. It’s a place for casual fans to get a little more information on players from college and get to see just how their skills transition into the big leagues.
2015 March 2: Franchise tag deadline day. This is the date when teams need to designate their transition or franchise players, if they so choose. Some of the biggest names fans need to watch out for are Dez Bryant and Jason Pierre-Paul.
2015 March 10: Free agency. Free agency begins and the first few days usually brings a flurry that keeps fans checking sports websites to see who their favorite teams signed.
2015 April 30-May 2: NFL Draft. Easily the most anticipated event of the off-season. Fans will flock to mock drafts leading up to the real thing and watch with as much excitement as any game. It’s the highlight of the off-season and a fan favorite.
2015 July 22: Training camp. It means the new season is upon us and NFL teams are getting ready to get back onto the field. It isn’t real football just yet but the anticipation of the new season is palpable. Fans will cross their fingers and hope there is no catastrophic injuries before the season begins.
2015 Aug 9: Hall of Fame Game – Minnesota Vikings vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
2015 Aug 13-17 – Preseason Week 1
2015 Sept 1 – 4 PM EST deadline to reduce rosters to maximum of 75 players
2015 Sep 3 – Final Preseason Game
2015 Sep 5 – 4 PM EST deadline to reduce rosters to final 53
2015 Sep 10 – Regular season begins
2015 Nov 3 – Trade Deadline
2016 Jan 3 – End of 2015 regular season
2016 Feb 7 – Super Bowl 50
There are dates in-between that hold significance but these are the major dates to look forward to as we prepare for another NFL season to begin. Until then, fans can do nothing but sit and wait for the next seven months to pass.
Here’s to hoping that time flies by.
You can chat with or follow Ben on twitter @BenGrimaldi