The Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints open the 2011 NFL regular season tonight at Lambeau Field in Wisconsin. Maybe it was the endless political brinksmanship or the end of the Harry Potter movies that prompted it, but nobody is holding back today on just how much they needed pro football back in their lives.

  • The best lede of the offseason--and maybe the entire year--came from the Washington City Paper's Dave McKenna, a man currently being sued for defamation by Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder. Not that such things should matter on the first day of the new pro football season. McKenna explains:

"The only thing Hunter S. Thompson ever wrote that I got was his suicide note."

"He titled it 'Football Season Is Over' and began with 'No more games.' Then he blew his head off."

[Washington City Paper]

  • Work stoppages in other professional sports leagues have resulted in fan backlash that in some instances lasted for years, but the NFL's 130-day offseason lockout seems to have had the opposite effect. Hard feelings have given way to simple gratitude, and the realization that one of the good things--maybe the best thing--about autumn in America is still taking place as scheduled. "Is it rational? No," concedes Deadspin's Drew Magary. "Do many NFL games fail to live up to expectations? Yes. But in many ways, the end result doesn't matter. What matters is that we're given something to look forward to." [Deadspin]
  • If that sounds like a stretch, ask an NFL fan not to choke up while the league's new ad showing various regular people tossing around a football, as Josh Ritter's hopeful (but not too hopeful) "Change of Time" plays on the soundtrack. Logically, this makes no sense--the advertisement was commissioned by the corporation (the NFL) that took fans to the brink during the lockout months and think $9.50 is a fair and reasonable price for a room temperature Coors Light. But look how happy everyone is. It's enough to make you put on a sweater and see if anyone you know is up for a game of three-on-three two-hand touch. Remember: the end zone goes from the poplar to the driveway. [Vimeo]