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NFL Love

By Mike Toth

Despite it's cruel intentions, COVID-19 has failed to sack the NFL and another football season is thankfully upon us. I've never played a single down of tackle football, I wouldn't have a clue about placing a bet with a bookie, and I have no interest in Fantasy Football. But like a lot of sports nuts, I'm planted on the sofa every Sunday watching pigskins fly, and here are a few reasons why.

Bills Mafia

It's always more fun to follow a sport if you have a favorite team - especially if your guys have gone from laughing stocks to legitimate contenders.

Say hello to the Buffalo Bills.

I began following the Bills when I moved to Toronto in the mid-90's and started listening to Buffalo's sports radio station, WGR 550. From the more reserved Canadian side of the border, it's amazing to hear the unbelievable passion Buffalo fans and broadcasters have for their beloved Bills.

You want passion?

In 2018, 26-year old WGR host-producer Ryan Gates took to the airwaves and pledged to quit his job if the Bills selected a so-so college quarterback named Josh Allen in the NFL draft. As most of you know, the Bills did pick Allen and after a few growing pains the kid with the strong arm and quick feet looks like the real deal.

Ryan Gates?

The poor guy lived up to his promise and really did quit his gig at WGR. I don't know where he is now but knowing the passion of Buffalo fans I bet Ryan is loving the Bills success and he probably even has a Josh Allen jersey in his closet.

I just hope he found a new job so he didn't have to steal the uni.

Football and Family

Even though I know nothing about Pro-Line, NFL odds and over-unders, I'm still part of our friendly NFL family pool. Each week, Dad, Mom and our two lads pick all the winners and compare our predictions with Toronto Sun NFL expert John Kryk. John does a great job covering the league, with a special emphasis on the NFL's Canadian content. (British Columbia native son Chase Claypool, by the way, is already proving to be an absolute stud receiver with the Pittsburgh Steelers.) 

But sorry, John.

After the first few weeks of picks, you're sucking slough water in the Toth league standings.

The (T.V.) Screen Game

Broadcasting is a very subjective art and everyone has their personal favorites. But to be honest, I can't think of too many network television NFL voices who turn me off. Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, Jim Nantz and Tony Romo, Al Michaels and Chris Collinsworth - all hugely skilled play-by-play duos with very comfortable chemistry. The studio shows are also excellent and feature unique insight from Hall-of-Famers such as Terry Bradshaw, Jimmy Johnson and Steve Young. 

Now that I think about it, "Hockey Night in Canada" could learn something from football's prestigious line-up. Analysts such as Kevin Bieksa, Brian Burke and Anthony Stewart all have something to offer. 

But wouldn't it be great to reserve a seat each week on the HNIC panel for a true legend of the game?

It would be fascinating to pick the brains of Hockey Hall-of-Famers such as Scotty Bowman, Wayne Gretzky and Glen Sather - or even a future HOF'er like Sidney Crosby if he's available on a Saturday night.

A typical Canadian, eh?

A football blog that turns into a hockey take.

But it doesn't change the fact that the NFL is the Sunday king at the Toth cave, where a certain old dog is leading the family pool. Check with me after Week 3, though, as some of the terrific match-ups are just too close to call.

Just another reason, I guess, to love the NFL.

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