The NFL draft is almost here. It starts on Saturday the 25th. An oasis of football in the middle of the off season. Unfortunately it’s not that exciting an event. A list of college players names really. And draftees often don’t end up doing well in the pros no matter how high they were drafted. But it gives all teams hope and us fans something to do for a day. Even if that day is just filled with a list of names.

I have another off season football source now. Since I changed from cable TV to satellite TV I actually have the NFL network. I can get a fix of football 24/7. Well, almost. Most of the NFL network is pretty uneventful. Some of the news and commentary shows are good but there is not always a lot of things to talk about in the off season. There is more than there used to be but football news isn’t football.

The NFL network covered the NFL scouting combines thoroughly. The problem is that is not an event that demands to be covered thoroughly. It’s a bunch of college athletes running, jumping, and going through football drills. It’s hardly riveting television. The forty time that a player runs at the combine might be important to the player and the scouts but hold little excitement for me.

The combine is also a little disturbing in it’s resemblance to a slave auction. We get to see players poked and prodded at little like cattle. Of course I haven’t seen a real slave auction but this is kind of how they look on TV or in the movies. That can be a little strange. It reminds me of Spartacus. Such is the life of a wannabe pro athlete.

There are also a lot of “Top Ten” specials on the NFL network. Top Ten Nicknames, Top Ten Characters, Top Ten Draft Steals, Top Ten Trades, and Top Ten You Get the Idea. These shows can be entertaining but there is too much padding in them. Too much what’s coming up, what has gone before, and repeated footage. An hour show has about forty minutes of stuff in it. Throw commercials in and these shows are tough to sit through.

I like the highlight package “America’s Game” that they show on NFL network. They are the same ones that you can buy on iTunes and are well done. They highlight Super Bowl teams of the past and tell the tale of their championship year. There is also a series called “Missing Rings” about really good teams that didn’t win the Super Bowl. That’s a interesting show.

I haven’t been able to get into the replays that the NFL network broadcasts of recent games. I find them too edited. It ruins the flow of the game for me. Sometimes plays start and end too abruptly. Plus it seems like the game is edited around the commercials. The game used to exist because of the drama on the field and now it exists to show commercials. Something is backwards about it.

There is this weird thing the NFL network does. It’s called “As it Happened” or something similar. They show you the good plays of any given Sunday as they happened in real time. If there were six games on at once they show you which game had the most exciting play at that moment. They start with a play from game three and then switch to game six and then to game four. It’s a really weird way to watch football. I’m not sure if I like it or not. It’s just plain strange.

So that’s my take on the NFL network. There isn’t really a ton for them to do in the off season. We got two weeks of Jay Cutler trade speculation this year. Not terribly compelling television but the talking heads were glad to have that to talk about. They really have to vamp to fill time in the off season. But here comes the draft.