The 2023 NFL season kicks off on Thursday, September 7, so it's back to focusing on football after some of the top players were on the golf course this past weekend as they competed in the American Century Championship at Lake Tahoe.
NBA star Steph Curry won the event in dramatic fashion by sinking an eagle putt on the final hole to capture the trophy for the 3-day event. The 18-foot walk-off cup-finder was worth 6 points in the Modified Stableford scoring system that also awards 3 points for a birdie and 1 point for a par. A double-bogey or worse is a 2-point deduction. Curry trailed tennis star Mardy Fish, whom he was paired with for the final round, 73-69 on the 18th tee.
The final hole was not without some controversy as a spectator screamed while Fish was in mid-swing of his tee shot which went astray into the right-side rough. He recovered and would have won the tournament were it not for Curry's heroics.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers finished 5th, but was 19-points behind Curry's final tally of 75. The Kansas City Chief's Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce were also among the current NFL players in the field, along with the Saints' Derek Carr, the Bills' Josh Allen, the Raiders' Davante Adams, the Bucs' Baker Mayfield, the Vikes' Patrick Peterson, and Titan's head coach Mike Vrabel. Former NFL QB Tony Romo won the event in 2018 and 2019, and finished 8th this year.
Most of the NFL teams have veterans reporting to training camp on July 25. Rookies, depending on the team, began reporting yesterday (July 18).
Mahomes and Kelce will be looking to guide Kansas City to consecutive Super Bowl titles, and their third in the last five seasons. The opening week NFL odds at FanDuel have the Chiefs by 6.5 points over Detroit at home in the Thursday night season-opener. And yes, they are the odds-on favorite (+600) to repeat as champs, just ahead of San Francisco (+800) and Buffalo (+900).
Meanwhile, excitement continues to reign among New York fans and oddsmakers alike as the Jets (+1600) are 7th on the Super Bowl board. They haven't returned to the NFL Championship Game since their one and only appearance produced a 16-7 upset of the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl 3.
The Jets kick off their regular season schedule at home on Monday Night Football against division rival Buffalo. Not only will it be the official debut of Rodgers in a Jets uniform, but it will also occur on 9/11 as the nation marks the 22nd anniversary since the terrorist hijackings of commercial airplanes, two of which deliberately crashed into the twin 104-floor towers of the World Trade Center, resulting in the deaths of 2,753 people from 93 nations. Another airplane attack killed 184 at the Pentagon in Washington, DC. A third - Flight 93 - killed all 40 onboard, but was heroically averted by passengers and crashed into a Pennsylvania field near Shanksville without causing any harm to others.
The Jets begin training camp for rookies and veterans today (July 19) as they open the preseason on Thursday, August 3 against Cleveland in the Hall-of-Fame Game in Canton, Ohio. All of the other teams will have their preseason kickoff between August 10th and 13th.
A lot can be expected to happen in the first days of training camp as teams initially get to experiment and tinker with a roster of 90 players, including draft picks and rookie free agents. They have until the end of the first weekend of preseason games to carry that number, with a mandatory reduction to 85 players by August 15.
They get another week - until August 23 - before having to cut 5 more players. By August 30, all teams have to be at 53 players. Each team can hold up to 16 players on a 'practice squad'.
Besides the Jets-Browns matchup, other week 1 preseason games could give us our first glimpse of many of the top players taken in the 2023 NFL draft.
Will we see the top over-all pick, quarterback Bryce Young from Alabama, when Carolina hosts the Jets on Saturday, August 12th?
Will we see CJ Stroud, the Ohio State QB taken second by Houston, when the Texans visit New England on Thursday, August 10?
We will also hope that the first week of preseason doesn't see too many injuries to those incoming players who have worked their entire life to get this stage.
Buckle up. Find your Fantasy Leagues and begin plotting your picks. Stock your fridge and your backup fridge (if you have one). It feels like 2023 is going to be a wild and fun ride.