It was seven months ago today that Tom Brady’s Hail Mary to Rob Gronkowski fell helplessly to the turf in Indianapolis, giving the Giants another Super Bowl victory and marking the end to meaningful football for 212 days.

That span gets longer every goddamn year. Given how much every event from the previous season is rehashed and endlessly pored over, it already feels like February was five years ago. I know too much about everything that happened in the 2011 season. I require new stimulation. And that I say during a year with a Summer Olympics, a thankful distraction during a period when baseball usually takes centerstage and proceeds to bores us to tears. I say that during an off-season that didn’t even make us suffer through a protracted lockout. For the players at least. A referee lockout sucks, but at least we know a football game we recognize will be played.

By most accounts, it was pretty good as far as off-seasons go. There more more drama than usual in free agency. Tebow got deposed from Denver and snubbed hometown Jacksonville so he can derp it up in the bright city. Peyton made everyone beg for his popgun arm. Gregg Williams was exiled from society and forced to live in a piss hole in Indonesia. The Saints spent months openly, brazenly hating on Roger Goodell. Chad Johnson and Terrell Owens returned. Then went away again.

All that does is serve as a reminder that even the best of off-seasons is still bitterly depressing and lonesome. You mean to tell me that most of the year goes by without a valid excuse to get trashed and screamy at 10 a.m. on a Sunday? I have no fantasy line-ups to set? No bets to make? No listening to a bunch of horrible team fight songs to quell the nervousness that a bunch of football players I don’t know might lose this week? What a gyp.

Thankfully, the greatest of all seasons is back. It is the promise of that return that sustains us in godawful February or July, when humidity makes the world smell like ball sweat and we have to pretend to listen to baseball writers question the moral rightness of being a football fan, even while baseball is still plodding its way through the summer.

I know that by this time next week, I’ll be complaining about how much I hate broadcasters, stupid commercials and replacement refs and boy, that Jacksonville-Minnesota game was pretty sh*tty, wasn’t it? Even at my most bitchy, I’m grateful for this. Statements that people spent months reciting with certitude get to change in the course of hours. Teams that were good are getting knocked down a peg or two. Teams that were horrible reveal themselves as improved. Teams that were horrible and hoped to get better but didn’t are reminded of the futility of their hope.

There’s a time and place for reflection. It’s the off-season, apparently, because there are seven unbroken months of it. But now we get to feed the senses with new observations, drinks and lots of things to cruelly mock for our atavistic amusement. I couldn’t possibly be more ready for tonight. Especially if it offers the promise of Jerry Jones anguish.