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Credit: Getty Images / Tetra Images / Winslow Productions

There was a time in my life where the first day of football season was my favorite holiday of the year. Not even Christmas morning could match the promise of another season of my favorite sport. The game brought intrigue with new configurations of players and coaches. It brought emotions with blossoming new superstars, season-altering injuries, and, of course, the unfettered optimism that your team could win it all. Perhaps most importantly, it brought drama with the buzz of pregame shows and players talking shit, fans talking shit, and bragging rights on the line.

As a kid growing up in…

Matt Stephen

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