IN ONE OF the niftiest cultural sleights of hand ever, the NFL has managed to turn 16 Sundays of games into a 52-week opus. With the recent announcement that the NFL draft will shift from April to May,* this means the league has locked up every month of the year with some type of football activity.
(*By moving back the "player selection meeting" two weeks, the Bureau of the Census estimates the NFL will create an additional 232,500 mock drafts annually. To accommodate the extra tonnage, the Department of Health and Human Services has recommended adding an extra day to the month of April. Hello, April 31st!)
Here's the NFL calendar these days - and we're going to present it in old-fashioned July 1 to June 30 fiscal-year style, because the NFL is as fiscal as anybody around:
July: Training camp. The league hasn't figured out how to fully monetize this yet.
August: Preseason. A dinosaur, lacking enough revenue flow.
September to December: Regular season. Cash cow. Cha-ching!
January: Playoffs. A bigger cash cow - I mean, everywhere you look, really large cows are running to the bank.
February: Super Bowl and the scouting combine. Biggest Cash Cow Ever, plus the other thing.
March-April: Free agency. Where hedge fund managers with helmets seek additional fortune.
May: The draft. When the league tells the newest members of its well-heeled workforce where they will punch in and punch out; this is probably illegal, but, what the heck, it's a darn good paycheck.
June: OTAs. Short for Organized Team Activities; actually, this might be where everyone divvies up the cash.
This is all you need to know about the NFL's grip on our sporting psyche:
The scouting combine - a series of drills that college seniors go through in preparation for the NFL draft - is now a weeklong event televised live.
(Granted, the three-cone drill arguably is more entertaining than "Two and a Half Men," and, to be honest, Couch Slouch has utilized a home version of the three-cone drill from time to time to scout prospective wives.)
In Woody Allen's 1977 movie "Annie Hall," the character Alvy Singer worried that the universe is expanding. "The universe is everything," he said, "and if it's expanding, someday it will break apart and that will be the end of everything." I'll leave that for scientists to debate, but it's clear that the NFL is expanding at a rate faster than the universe.
Once a Sunday-only exercise, the NFL now plays on Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays virtually every week.