The 103rd season of the National Football League is fast approaching with a kickoff date set for Thursday, September 8th.
Players, coaches, executives, and millions of fans around the nation are amped up to return to play this fall. Especially as the offseason has been filled with dramatics and scandals.
One of the most storied franchises in the history of the NFL, the Denver Broncos, is now heading into the 2022 season as a brand-new organization.
The sale of the Denver Broncos from the Pat Bowlen Trust to the Walton-Penner family ownership group became official after a unanimous vote by NFL owners earlier this month.
The new ownership group includes former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, chairwoman of Starbucks and co-CEO of Ariel Investments Mellody Hobson and seven-time Formula One champion Sir Lewis Hamilton.
Hobson’s inclusion in the group when the sale was first announced was notable because she is, as The Athletic reported at the time, “believed to be the first Black woman to be publicly identified as part of an original ownership group purchasing an NFL team.” Rice and Hamilton are also Black but were announced as being part of the group later.
Other highlights of the offseason included the trade of Deshaun Watson from Houston to Cleveland as well as his 11-game suspension without pay after he was shockingly accused by more than two dozen women of sexual misconduct during massage sessions.
There have also been plenty of exciting extensions leading up to the new season. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported last week that Cooper Kupp has agreed to a three-year contract extension that will keep him with the Rams for the next five seasons. He joins other star NFL receivers Stefon Diggs, Tyreek Hill, Davante Adams and A.J. Brown in signing massive contract extensions this year.
According to Schefter, Kupp’s new deal will pay him $110 million total over the next five seasons. The extension is for roughly $80 million over three years, with $75 million guaranteed; the most given to a non-quarterback offensive player in NFL history.
Tyreek Hill was given a four-year extension with the Miami Dolphins that makes him the highest-paid receiver in the league, both in terms of annual salary ($30 million) and guaranteed value ($72.2 million).
Wide receiver DK Metcalf took his turn at the contract table July 28 where he was extended on a three-year, $72 million deal with the Seahawks. Metcalf was a Pro Bowler in 2020, and over the past two seasons has accumulated 2,270 receiving yards and 22 touchdowns. The Seattle team strategically traded quarterback Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos in the offseason.
Breakout players have always been difficult to predict, but not impossible, and this year many eyes will also be on Seahawks player Rashaad Penny, who goes into his fifth season in the NFL. He has an opportunity to become one of the top running backs in all of football after rushing 706 yards and six touchdowns in the final six games of the 2021 season.
It was in July that Arizona Cardinals signed quarterback Kyler Murray for a five-year, $230.5 million extension. Murray is a two-time Pro Bowler and will now be a Cardinal until he’s 31 years old.
Last month the New York Jets inked offensive tackle Duane Brown to a two-year, $22 million deal. Duane is one of the oldest players at age 36, but will be exciting to watch as he is a seasoned vet with 203 starts on his resume.
While it has been thrilling to see which players are coming back, nothing will compare to the actual games that are on the way. This will be the first season that the NFL operates under normal procedures since the pandemic began in 2020.
The NFL league still wants anyone with symptoms to speak up and wear a mask after contact with someone with the COVID-19 virus. A positive test will call for isolating at home for at least five days.
“I think we are always concerned about everybody’s safety, ours and the health of our families,” Tennessee Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. Responding to it being 2 1/2 years into the pandemic, he remarked, “Hopefully we are past that.”
2022 will also see stadiums back to full capacity. “It’s huge,” Packers running back Aaron Jones said. “The fans are everything. They’re what makes football go.” NFL stadiums are not expected to require proof of vaccination during the new season.
All broadcasters have been officially revealed, with some exciting teams lined up to offer commentary.
At CBS, former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo teams up with sportscasters Tracy Wolfson and Jim Nantz while the Amazon team includes Al Michaels, Kirk Herbstreit, and Kaylee Hartung (TNF).
NBC’s Sunday Night Football has been television’s top rated prime-time program since 2011 but will have a change in the broadcast booth. Michaels is leaving after 16 seasons to be at Amazon Prime for Thursday Night Football. Herbstreit had spent the past 26 seasons at ESPN’s College GameDay before heading to Amazon himself.
ESPN welcomes NFL legend Troy Aikman who is teaming up with sportscasters Joe Buck and Lisa Salters. Buck had one year left on his Fox Sports contract but could leave to join his long-time partner at ESPN instead.
Kevin Burkhardt, former tight end Greg Olsen, Erin Andrews, Tom Rinaldi have formed a team for FOX while Mike Tirico, Cris Collinsworth, and Melissa Stark (SNF) are the trio for NBC.
The defending Super Bowl LVI champion Los Angeles Rams will start off week one by playing the Buffalo Bills in the NFL Kickoff Game later this week.
This year you’ll be able to hear every primetime and postseason game on radio stations nationwide (find an affiliate near you), as well as on SiriusXM NFL Radio Channel 88, through NFL Game Pass, which is available on NFL.com and the NFL Mobile app, or with a subscription to TuneIn Premium.
Thanks to radio, you can look forward to home and away feeds for every team for the 2022 season with expert analysis and the latest NFL news from the top names in sports talk.