The Lofton Files: An early Christmas present


For me, calling games for Westwood One Sports is like being a kid at Christmas. Every game is another gift under the tree – a surprise waiting inside. And though the wrapping might be prettier on some, the treasure inside the box covered by ragged old newspapers can sometimes be just as exciting.

Being part of the National Football League, even with all its flaws, is still pretty extra special. Yes, the NFL does have flaws, from Spy Gate to Bounty Gate and the replacement refs and not-so-collective bargaining. Tell me what exactly is a defenseless receiver and when is it okay to hit helmet to helmet? Somebody had to know a few years ago that concussions were a bad thing.

I get the sense from talking to coaches around that the league that we have too much of a good thing. Sunday afternoon used to be for football. Monday Night was once a special stage. Now, Sunday Night has replaced Monday Night as the crown jewel of the NFL weekend. Thursday football once was the sole residence of the annual Thanksgiving games. Then there were two, now there are three Turkey Day games. Including one on Turkey Night.

We are updated during the game with how many fantasy points our favorite players have racked up. We can watch the Red Zone, which gives us every scoring play and when no scoring is going on, we can see updated highlights or live look-ins.

The NFL has its own network 24-7, and we can’t get enough of that. Cell phone alerts, tablets and hot spots offer more chances to feed our addiction. We are football junkies.

We project high school players and wonder what type of NFL careers they will have. We offer up instant opinions on prospects coming into the draft and ponder what impact they will have on teams A, B or C even before they are selected.

Once drafted, we wonder if said players will be an All-Pro or a bust. The talk of Hall of Fame begins about midway through a players’ rookie year. A little premature, don’t you think?

Week 3 matchups are labeled must-win, coaches enter the season on the hot seat. Is it so hard to just let the season play out and enjoy the magic as the leaves turn brown and the snow begins to fall on all those indoor stadiums?

Amidst the constant whirl of information, every once in awhile, we’d all do well to just stop and focus on just one thing and one thing alone. That time comes this Sunday night as the football world turns its attention to Denver’s Sports Authority Field for Drew Brees and the Saints against Peyton Manning and the Broncos.

The forecast is for light snow Thursday and Friday. Both these QBs are dome guys and nobody can predict the weather. In Denver, it could be 32 or 72 this time of year. But if the weather outside is frightful, I will be interested to see if these two can put up the delightful numbers we’re used to from them. Snow or no snow, with Manning and Brees playing on Sunday Night Football, Christmas for football fans is coming nearly two months early this year.

– JL

James Lofton is the analyst for Westwood One’s coverage of Sunday Night Football. This week, James will be alongside Dave Sims in Denver to bring you all the action as the Broncos host the New Orleans Saints. Coverage begins at 7:30 PM Eastern with all the highlights from around the league brought to you by Scott Graham on NFL Sunday.

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