Detroit Lions: What’s the worst part of the NFL offseason?

TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 10: Detroit Lions players celebrate after recovering a fumble in the second quarter of a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on December 10, 2017 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 10: Detroit Lions players celebrate after recovering a fumble in the second quarter of a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on December 10, 2017 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

As we enter the darkest part of the Detroit Lions’ calendar, is the summer the worst part of the entire offseason or is something else?

The true brilliance of the NFL is that they have found a way to dominate the sports landscape no matter the time of year. Unlike most professional sports that have longer quiet periods, the NFL is a 365 day a year machine. That’s not necessarily always for the best, but it’s the way it is.

While there are surely fans who soak up every bit of it every day of the year, there are surely many others who could do without certain parts of the football offseason calendar. There are some things we just to bear through while we wait for the Detroit Lions to hit the field for real.

To me, the NFL offseason can be broken up into a few distinct phases: free agency, the draft, talkin’ ’bout practice, rankings season and fantasy football. There can be some overlap between in the timing but I see these as the main parts of the offseason.

Free agency

It’s exciting to see a roster take shape in anticipation of a new season and that process largely starts when free agency opens with the new league year. That being said, free agency is often overrated considering the foundation of most really good teams is built through drafting and developing talent rather than signing it on the open market. Familiarity (or unfamiliarity) with names can also lead to skewed views on what a team should do or has done.

NFL Draft

The NFL Draft has become such a popular event that the NFL has decided to capitalize on it with three days of televised coverage, including primetime spots on Thursday and Friday. That makes for a long haul for the most dedicated fans who want to take in all seven rounds, but the most exhausting draft-related thing for a number of fans is the flood of mock drafts in the months leading up to the draft. Not only does everyone seem to have one, everyone seems to have three or four or more. Mocks can serve a purpose but they can get tiring after a while. Even more tiring can be the tendency of some fans to rail against them. Take mock drafts for what they are, nothing more.

Talkin’ ’bout practice

As offseason rosters are filled out following the draft, OTAs and minicamps get underway. It is the first time we see rookies and free agents hit the field for the first time but is there really much information to be gained this early in the process? Starting jobs won’t be won or lost ahead of training camp so there can be a tendency to over-analyze just about anything.

Rankings season

With major roster moves over and done with and just a smattering of actual football-related activities going on, the NFL offseason has a tendency to move into rankings season. The NFL is already into their annual top 100 and there will be plenty of other forms of rankings that will come out between now and training camp. There’s nothing wrong with rankings, just like there is nothing wrong with mock drafts. You probably have already or will at some point see some kind of rankings-based content on this here site.

The tiresome aspect is in the overreaction when fans feel a ranking DISRESPECTS their team or players. Of course, rankings always have your team or player too low rather than too high. Funny how that works out, isn’t it? Cool down, bro. A ranking is nothing more than a set of opinions and doesn’t ultimately mean anything. Agree? Cool. Don’t agree? Cool. No reason to get your blood pressure up; maybe go enjoy some Pure Michigan instead.

Fantasy football

Like everything else on this list, there isn’t anything inherently wrong with fantasy football. It can be a great way to engage at a deeper level as a fan and learn more about teams and players you might not otherwise pay attention to. The problem is often that your fantasy team may be the most interesting thing in the world to you but it’s the least interesting thing to everyone else.

Some sits have had fantasy leagues open for registration for months already, with the NFL season still months away. If fantasy football talk triggers you, hold on, things are just getting started and it will be a while until there is real football to cover it up.

So what is actually the worst? Free agency and the NFL Draft are immediately out of consideration for me because both have real-life implications for the regular season. Some things surrounding those parts of the calendar may be overdone but they are still exciting on the whole.

I’ll also strike practice/OTA/minicamp talk out of consideration because that too is actually about real football and does carry some intrigue. We would all be wise not to put too much stock into reports from these practices but they do mean something, even if it isn’t as much as we might like to think.

That leaves fantasy football and rankings season, of which I’ll pick rankings season as the worst part of the offseason. Full disclaimer, I have played fantasy football in the past but have not participated in several years. I just don’t have the interest in it like I used to and while I’d like to hear phrases containing “my fantasy team” less often, that kind of stuff is easier to avoid than the constant rankings backlash by oversensitive fans.

In the end, it’s not really the rankings themselves that are the worst thing about the NFL offseason for me, it’s more the reaction to rankings that I could do without. It’s also harder to avoid short of unplugging from Twitter until training camp starts. Then again, that might not be such a bad idea…

Next: Craziest moments in Detroit sports history

Now it’s your turn. Is there something I missed worth considering? What do you think is the worst part of the NFL offseason? Let us know with a comment below or a tweet.