End of the Line
Before we can get to the fun of the regular season, the playoffs, the Pro Bowl, the Super Bowl, next year's draft, and the hope that will come with next season, we have to go through this week...the saddest one in football.
Today is the first of two deadlines in the NFL's roster reduction timeline. By this afternoon, teams have to go from 90 to 75 players. Friday, after every team has played its final preseason contest, teams have to be down to their final 53 man roster. That means a lot of guys are going to be seeing their NFL dreams coming to an end this week. How many? Quite a few, actually.
Here's a little math for you. With 32 teams each having 53 available spots, that means there's 1,696 possible job opportunities in the NFL. With offseason roster limits at 90, that means each team has to cut 37 guys to get down to that magic number of 53, or 1,184 players. If you took just the players getting cut, you could create over 22 completely new NFL teams. That's a mind boggling amount of players in my book.
Of course, not everybody who gets cut is at the end of their career. Plenty of guys will catch on with new teams. The Packers, for example, will almost assuredly be in the market for a backup quarterback who didn't fit in on somebody else's roster, and some other team will without a doubt be snagging a couple soon-to-be-former Packer receivers. But for the vast majority of players cut this week, this is it. Their moment is done. They had their shot...and they missed.
I don't mean to be overly morose, but I think it's important to remember that football isn't all about touchdown celebrations and Super Bowl victory parades. There's a lot of hard work and heartache that goes into every one of those victories. Part of what makes those celebrations so worthwhile is the length of the road that led to them. Remember that as you watch games from here on out, because there won't be a lot of time to think about it as we sprint through the regular season.