Written By Alan Brads
After months of waiting, unsure if there would even be an NFL season, it is finally here. From empty stadiums to rebranded teams, this is set to be one of the most unique seasons in the history of the league.
After being on the forefront of peaceful protests over racial injustice four years ago, the league is back in the spotlight. Most notably, in the offseason the Washington NFL team shed their nickname “Redskins” and is playing this season under the title “Washington Football Team.” Before every game, the American National Anthem was played (often to groups of kneeling players) along with the “Black National Anthem,” Lift Every Voice. Many players also chose to put messages on their helmets related to racial injustice such as “End Racism” and “It takes all of us.” Despite all the strangeness surrounding the league, in play there is still much normalcy.
The defending champion Chiefs kicked off the NFL season on Thursday, September 10th against the Houston Texans. After Houston jumped out to a first quarter lead, The Chiefs put up 31 unanswered points and finished with a 34-20 victory. One of the most awaited games for Ohioan football fans was Joe Burrow’s rookie debut as the Cincinnati Bengals quarterback. To say he flopped would be an overstatement, but he was less than stellar. While trailing 16-13 to the Los Angeles Chargers, he led his team down the field with less than two minutes to give them a chance to tie the game. Tragically for Cincinnati fans, kicker Randy Bullock missed the game tying field goal and the Chargers walked away with the win.
There were several very familiar faces in brand new places for their season openers. Most notably, six-time super bowl champion quarterback Tom Brady made his debut as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer after spending the last 20 seasons as a Patriot. He lost in a 34-23 battle with the New Orleans Saints, led by fellow future hall of fame member Drew Brees. Former MVP quarterback Cam Newton made his New England debut in a 21-11 victory over the Dolphins. Showing his unique playing style, Newton rushed for 75 yards and two touchdowns. Finally, after being traded to the Arizona Cardinals in the offseason, star wide receiver Deandre Hopkins racked up 151 yards on a career high 14 catches.
The entire season is out laid out and will certainly be full of excitement and surprises. Just like every year, there will be upsets, injuries, suspensions, and this year, positive coronavirus tests that completely alter the shape of the season. As for now, the Chiefs, Ravens, Seahawks, Saints, and Packers are the definite frontrunners to be super bowl champions in 2021.