Start of football season brings promise of renewal

Published 10:59 am Thursday, August 28, 2014

Happy New Year!

Yes, I know it’s August, and not January.

Yes, I’m aware it’s almost 100 degrees outside and the only time a cold front blows through the neighborhood is when I leave the front door open.

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This time of year, however, has always felt like a rebirth of sorts for me.

Children are going back to school, where the scent of new shoe leather fills the halls.

On another part of the smell spectrum, the funk of practice field sweat in dozens of football fieldhouses around the state gives way to the sweet scent of freshly cut grass on a Friday evening.

It’s safe to say at this point that football has supplanted baseball as the Great American Pastime, and that’s what truly gives a sense of freshness to life as the calendar flips from August to September — it’s the start of football season.

High school has already started. College football begins tonight when a few SEC teams — Ole Miss among them — take the field, and in earnest when everyone else plays on Saturday.

Next week, it’s time for the NFL to kick off. Millions of folks around the country will eagerly rush home from church to sit in front of a couch for seven hours watching the Saints, some other favorite team, or all of them on the glorious Red Zone Channel.

This is the time of year when fantasy football drafts offer promise of bragging rights and riches. When every team’s record is 0-0, and every win builds anticipation of a championship. When long passes hurtle toward open receivers, one shoestring tackle breaks hearts, and each Friday starts the weekend cycle anew.

Soak it up. Savor it. Bite into it like a juicy steak grilled to perfection at a tailgate party. Football is a delicacy, a seasonal treat that must be enjoyed while it’s here. Because, before you know it, it’ll be gone.

By the time summer actually gives way to autumn, nearly half the high school season will be in the books. By mid-October, most of our college teams will be playing for bowl position rather than championships.

When children go trick-or-treating, the real high water mark of fall, even the NFL playoff picture will have started to take shape.

September and October are lively, filled with colorful leaves and tailgate parties with good friends in perfect weather. November and December bring those same leaves to the ground, as the weather turns chilly and the tailgate parties give way to the busy holiday season.

When the actual New Year’s Day rolls around, it’s pretty much all over. No more Friday night lights. No more college football. No more Sundays zonked on the couch in front of the Red Zone Channel. Time to pack up the jerseys and tailgate supplies for another nine long, agonizing months.

So, when Ole Miss and Boise State kick off the season tonight, toot a party horn and make a toast. It’s New Year’s Day. The next two months are filled with hope and possibilities — not just on the field, but off.

Make the most of them, and enjoy every last second of it.

Ernest Bowker is a sports writer. He can be contacted by email at, or by phone at 601-619-7920.

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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