I arrived in New York this week at a palpably electric moment. My plane touched down in a rainstorm just hours before Aaron Rodgers and The Jets were set to take the field across the Hudson river in the Meadowlands, and on ESPN’s revered national stage, Monday Night Football. The Jets season opener against the Bills was the most highly anticipated game of the early NFL season: Rodgers’ decision to don the Gotham green had become a national A1 storyline, fueled in no small part by a relentless and unforgiving New York media market, a particularly well-executed season of HBO’s Hard Knocks, and our dual national obsessions: football and redemption.
The NFL always returns to America with force, restoring structure to the weekly schedule and some semblance of a shared narrative to an increasingly polarized, compartmentalized and nicheified nation. But even by those standards this Monday night game seemed weighted with a unique and profound significance.