There's The NFL. . .And There's The Bills
Here's the scary part for the rest of the NFL.
It could have been worse.
Had Wes Welker not first a) decided to catch a punt inside his five-yard-line and b) fumbled it to lead to an easy Baltimore touchdown, it could have been worse.
Had linebacker Danny Trevathan not done a Leon Lett and dropped the ball shy of the end zone to erase an easy pick-six play, it could have been worse.
Yep, the Denver Broncos could have thumped the Baltimore Ravens by an even larger spread than the eventual 49-27 outcome on Thursday, the worst opening night beat-down of a Super Bowl champion in NFL history.
Oh yeah, one more thing. Peyton Manning was slow out of the gate or Lord knows how many TD passes he might have thrown. As it was, he was the first to throw seven since Joe Kapp in 1969, a spectacular performance for an offence that seized upon all the changes in Baltimore's championship defence to enjoy a scoring spree on opening night.
That's one heckuva exclamation mark with which to start the NFL season, wouldn't you agree?
Having managed to settle a massive concussion lawsuit with former players for just under $1 billion on the eve of the season, the league managed to free itself from the controversial shackles that ongoing legal action might have provided.
Now, look out, the biggest machine in pro sports is ready to roar. The closest we folks in Toronto will get will be the Dec. 1st game when the very, very good Atlanta Falcons come to the Rogers Centre to take on what may be a very, very bad Buffalo Bills squad, as the Bills in Toronto series has been extended to 2017.
Well, that's unless E.J. Manuel can, in his rookie season, make the Bills some kind of threat on offence, which seems like a very big order for the freshman QB as he comes off arthroscopic knee surgery. The Bills have missed post-season play since 1999, the longest such slump for an NFL team, and it seems likely to continue.
Otherwise, it's the Falcons, hardly a team with many followers in these parts, that will provide a true glimpse of what the upper echelon of the NFL really looks like.
There might be an NFL game in Toronto every year. But really, that wild and overwhelming show in Denver on Thursday seems like a different league compared to the small sampling we get.