Ah yes … it really doesn’t get any better than the NFL playoffs. And if you love football, then you likely really love wildcard weekend. With only a fraction of the pomp and circumstance, the wildcard games always seem to deliver some of the best football of the playoffs. In the first two games, we witnessed both of last year’s Super Bowl teams get sent home losers. Today, it continues with two more very spirited contests. Maybe it is the fact that these wildcard teams have just squeaked into the playoffs and have something to prove that drives intensity to these games. Or maybe it is just the fact that it is the opening weekend of the playoffs that creates the additional excitement. Whatever the cause, I love wildcard weekend.
Being in the great white north, we all know that January and February can be pretty dismal. The period from mid-January until the end of February is the peak of the endurance test we suffer through every year. We shiver, shake and hope for springtime. Once the holidays are over, I tend to mentally mark time with a few key events. It is like when you were a kid and made chain of paper links before Christmas or before the end of the school year, and tore off one link each day to mark the passage of time.
In my journey towards spring, the first paper link is wildcard weekend. I revel in it because it always provides some of the most entertaining football of the year. The second paper link comes a couple of weeks later as we are treated to the Conference Championships, which also tend to be great games. The Super Bowl, which is usually pretty boring, I can take or leave (unless of course the Packers are in it). Early February can be a challenge, but if you can hold on until late February, I find my third paper link in the form of the sunshine and warmth of the Daytona 500. It provides that much needed glimmer of hope. After that, it is an easy stroll to mid-February when the NCAA Tournament functions as the fourth and final paper link in the chain … sending winter into retreat and ushering in the early spring weather.
Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t that I hate winter … but it does get pretty challenging around here for a few weeks. For me, the mental paper chain reminds me that this too shall pass. If you are heading into a tough patch in your life, or simply facing a few weeks of bitterly cold weather, I hope you find your personal paper chain that helps pull you through to the other side. In the meantime … if you are watching football … enjoy the games and go Packers!