(March 19) Tom Brady leaves the Patriots! Cam Newton jettisoned by the Panthers! Stefon Diggs changes teams!

As the coronavirus pandemic justifiably dominated news coverage in mid-March, and as basketball, baseball, golf, hockey, tennis, and horse racing were all canceled or postponed, the National Football League became not just “the only game in town,” but essentially the only game in the whole country. Blessed to have its already-hyped offseason, rather than actual on-field contests, at a time when the pandemic erupted, the NFL this whole spring is likely to enjoy even more attention than usual.

Thus, as the league’s free agency period opened (officially on March 18, with preliminary agreements allowable as early as the 16th), hundreds of millions of sports fans drank up each headline as if slurping water from a desert oasis. Desperately desiring distraction from doom and disaster, avidly anticipating the resumption of some form of vicarious competition, we fans don’t just want, but feel we need, every single drop of information.

How will our favorite teams be refashioned for the fall season? Where will our favorite players end up? Which teams pulled off heists, and which made grievous blunders?

Everybody will have opinions. And this is just free agency. If “social distancing” remains in place throughout the country as the April 23-25 NFL draft approaches, and if other events keep going by the wayside, expect interest in the draft to exceed all prior levels of obsessiveness.

After all, what else will there be to do? Just how many reruns of old movies can we watch in our living rooms? Just how many books can we reread? And just how many ESPN specials can recap 1970s contests before we go stir-crazy?

Some may see the mania with offseason dealings as a pathology. (But….)….

[The full column is at this link.]


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