The NFL Is Back. Thank God!

It's back. The long, hard summer is finally over and real sports are back. Sure, you've tried watching the Astros -- if you could watch them at all given the CSN issues. But, let's be honestly, they are horrible. Awful. A travesty. The only thing that was going to salve the wounds you suffered during the long, hot summer months was the return of gridiron greatness. Football is back.

Oh, I know that the NCAA opened last weekend, but as great as college football is, we all want the real deal. We want the NFL. And to open the NFL regular season is a rematch of last years AFC Championship game between the Ravens and the Broncos. The Ravens would win that game and go on to a Super Bowl victory over the San Francisco 49ers. But, Peyton Manning, in his second full year as a Bronco, has other ideas and it's on Denver's home turf where they are very tough to beat.

Setting aside the first Thursday-night matchup for a moment, permit me to indulge in a moment of pure testosterone. I've been a sports fan as long as I can remember. Both my parents were as well. Growing up, I carried Calvin Murphy's basketball card around with me in my wallet. I went to the airport when the Oilers lost to the Steelers in 1978 -- I shook Bum Phillips's thumb. I cried when the Cougars lost to NC State. I was on Richmond Avenue minutes after the Rockets won that first title, celebrating with the rest of the city. Houston sports, as tragic as it could be, is in my blood.

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While the Texans may not be playing until Monday night, I'm thrilled to see professional football back, especially given the struggles of the Astros. They are once again on pace for 100 losses. It would be one of the great stretches of futility in the history of major league baseball. And to make matters worse, the CSN carrier issues have kept them off the air. It's like the Woody Allen joke at the beginning of Annie Hall: the food here is so terrible...and in such small portions.

The really good news is that, in addition to pro football, the Rockets will be back in just less than two months. Training camp opens in less than a month and the first game is the day after Halloween. Given the signing of Dwight Howard and the improvement of the young nucleus, it is reasonable to be optimistic heading into the season.

So, don't be afraid to rejoice. Eat some red meat. Grab a cold beer. Feel your blood course though your veins. It's football season once again. Thank God.

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