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How to Face the NFL Off-season: Advice for Steelers Fans

February 22, 2019
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How to Face the NFL Off-season: Advice for Steelers Fans

Just like that, the season is over. As the last piece of ticker tape was swept up at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, football fans all over the country were coming to terms with the fact that there would be no more NFL action until September. A wide, barren wasteland stretches out before us and those first pre-season games seem an eternity away. So, how can you keep sane in the off-season?

If you’re a particularly obsessive Steelers fan, you may be contemplating locking yourself in a darkened room to spend the next six months reviewing every single play of every single Steelers game from 2018. This is not recommended, however, unless you are keen on masochism. Rummaging through the debris of that defeat to the Raiders, for example, is something that only the coaching staff and analysts at the Steelers should have to go through.

Fortunately, for the rest of us, there are healthier ways to pass the time before September 5 and the 2019 NFL season. For a start, there’s the start of contract negotiations in March, culminating with the beginning of the free agency period on March 13. In fact, the machinations surrounding Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown have often been more absorbing than the Steelers’ on-field performances, and both dramas have a few acts left to unfold before they are done.

A month later and we will be into the hype, wild speculation and rampant guesswork that is the NFL Draft, this year taking place in Nashville, Tennessee between April 25 and 27. It’s pretty clear where the Steelers need to improve, and top of the list will be a potential star cornerback such as Byron Murphy or Deandre Baker, but it would be no surprise to see Pittsburgh going in for a line-backer, a pass-rusher or a tackle as they attempt to fix their glaring defensive frailties.

Of course, as gripping as the Draft can be, it isn’t the same as catching real sports action. Granted, nothing can get the juices flowing like full-blooded NFL play, but there are plenty of other sports to follow before September. Thanks to recent changes, it is now legal to wager on many of them, adding an extra layer of interest for the casual watcher. As well as picking up a SugarHouse online casino bonus code, you can have a wager on NASCAR racing, March Madness or the Masters.

The proximity of spring also means the build-up to the start of the baseball season, and spring training offers the ideal combination of easy-to-access top-quality sport and pleasant weather conditions in Florida or Arizona. The MLB season begins on April 6 and takes you right through to the fall, so whether you’re following the Pirates or just watching a game now and then, baseball offers the perfect continuous sports narrative to keep you busy all summer.

April also provides one of the most famous sporting spectacles in the US as the best golfers on the planet head to the Augusta National to compete at the world’s most iconic course. It’s a change of pace from the frenetic action of the NFL, but the tension builds slowly over four days to produce a final day that can often be packed with thrills and drama. The Masters is just the start though. By the time the NFL returns, the 2019 US Open, British Open and the US PGA will all be in the books.

For fast and furious action, you can’t beat the NBA playoffs. With 16 out of 30 NBA teams making it to the big stage, and no one-game Wild Card eliminators, the NBA playoffs take around two months to complete, giving you plenty of sports action to get your teeth into, and professional basketball provides at least some of the spectacle that NFL fans are used to seeing.

However, if it’s the big hits and confrontations that you’re pining for, then the NHL might be a better bet. Hockey may not have caught your attention during the fall and winter, but April to June is Stanley Cup playoffs time, and there are few more compelling sports outside the NFL when it comes to the physical side of the game. The action, complete with fights, shoot-outs, overtime and power plays, makes for a thrilling two months of entertainment.

If you’re a Steelers fan contemplating the long, empty months ahead without football, don’t despair. Grab a TV guide, have a look at the other sports channels, and recharge your NFL batteries by checking out some of the other great sport that the US has to offer, and it will be September before you know it.

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