The SEC of the NFL

T he NFL has released its full regular season schedule including TV times and of its 41 nationally televised, primetime games this coming season, 11 of those games include NFC East teams. Four teams (Redskins, Cowboys, Giants and Eagles), just 12 percent of the league, are featured in more than 25 percent of the spotlight television games.

The reason for this is obvious and it includes the huge TV markets of the teams – New York, Dallas, Philly and D.C. But it’s more than that. The NFC East teams, regardless of who you root for, are always the most interesting “other” teams in the NFL. They always have the most drama, the most personalities, they all have rabid fans, huge national fan bases, big, broad-based appeal, star players and the best inter-division rivalries.

Whether or not the NFC East is the best division in football, and it often is, it’s always the most interesting division. The NFC East is the SEC of the NFL.

Just like the NFC East, the SEC is often the best conference in college football when it comes to the product on the field, but when everything else is factored in – atmosphere, fans, tradition, rivalries, stars, drama, personalities, intrigue – the SEC is always the best conference in college football.

If you had to schedule a game for “Monday Night Football” five years from now, you’d take Redskins-Cowboys or Eagles-Giants in the same way that if you had to schedule a primetime Saturday night college football game for five years from now you’d take Georgia-Florida or Tennessee-Alabama. The nature and history of the NFC East and the SEC tells you that, almost without fail, when you match those teams you’ll get fireworks.

There is more to being interesting and TV-friendly than just being good. The Spurs have been great for a decade and are TV ratings Kryptonite. The Cowboys haven’t been to the playoffs in over a decade and are TV gold. Only one college football conference has its own national broadcast TV network and it’s the SEC, not just because it’s the best football, but because it’s the most interesting.

Every NFC East team has great tradition, just like almost all SEC teams. We’re interested in what we’re comfortable and familiar with and we’ve all grown up and grown old watching the Cowboys, Giants, Redskins, Gators, Tigers and Tide regardless of where you live in the country.

NFC East and SEC teams share an unusual penchant for drama and controversy and huge personalities which create intrigue, storylines, heroes, villains and interest. Jerry Jones, Daniel Snyder, Terrell Owens, Michael Irvin, Donovan McNabb, Troy Aikman, Plaxico Burress, Steve Spurrier, Nick Saban, Bobby Petrino, Lane Kiffin, Tim Tebow, Bobby Lowder.

And on an unidentifiable, gut, instinct, reflex level, the NFC East just feels like the NFL, seems to define it, in the same way the SEC is the archetype of what college football is at its best.

The NFC East is big city, aggressive, bold, high-stakes, star-driven, cold weather, 75,000 union members in attendance, hard nosed football with just enough glitz to make it pop. Everything the NFL aspires to be.

The SEC drips with tradition; it’s about small college towns, huge college stadiums and pretty college girls. It’s steamy. It’s about rivalries that put a new meaning on the word hate. It’s a passion play where the lead characters are larger than life and the style of play is tough with speed. It’s about cocktails, Houndstooth, tailgating, pageantry, color and no perspective. Everything college football aspires to be.

Fans argue endlessly about the best conference or division in football, to the impartial judge of television, it really doesn’t matter. What does matter is interesting and that’s how I judge the “best.” By that standard, the SEC and the NFC East are easily the best – have been for a long time, and will be for a long time to come.

The SEC of the NFL
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