Only in the NFL can a team fight back from early-season adversity and redeem themselves from a slow start and fight their way through the playoffs on the road to become a champion. You will not find this kind of success story in college football where a couple of losses early in the year will seal your fate and send you to a meaningless bowl game at the end of the year. Only in the NFL can a team band together to overcome adversity and make the nay-sayers become the yay-sayers and vindicate loyal fans who stuck with them through the hard times.
4) Quality of play.
Sorry, but I can only take so many missed extra points, fumbled snaps, blocked punts, and botched option plays. In the NFL you can't go out and run the option 30 times in a row and get away with it. There's a thing called strategy and it makes for good football. I turned on the Orange Bowl for a few minutes this year and I had enough. With the score 14-7, Oklahoma was driving when the quarterback was trying to avoid a sack and just lofted up a hail mary into triple coverage and I had to turn it off. And don't get me started on that goofy overtime system. The last game I watched, the '02 game between Ohio State and Miami which went into triple or quadruple overtime just turned into a circus in the end and sealed my fate as a college football-hater for good.
3) No single player is bigger than the team.
When a hot-shot college superstar arrives in the NFL he realizes that it is a team effort. He must become part of the team in order to win. Dan Marino was a great quarterback, but he never won the big one because he never had a running game. John Elway couldn't carry the Broncos on his shoulders. He needed a quality running game to compliment the passing attack. No matter how good a player is, he is never bigger than the team. How quickly this was discovered by Rocket Ismail, Brian Bosworth, and yes, Randy Moss. No single player can impact the game all by himself. It is always a team effort.
The divisional rivalries in the NFL capture the attention of the nation rather than just the schools involved. Michigan-Ohio State can not match the intensity of a good late season matchup between the Cowboys and Redskins or the Chiefs and Raiders. And when the playoffs are at stake it's all the more dramatic. Obviously such a scenerio is vacant from college. And playoffs allow such rivalries to develop outside of divisions like 49ers-Cowboys and Steelers-Raiders. No such thing can be said of CFB.
1) Upsets and championships.
This weekend we have four possibilities for upsets in the NFL where an underdog can go on the road into a hostile environment and advance one more step to the Super Bowl by beating a team that is supposed to be better than them. In college this would just be a meaningless bowl game and would accomplish nothing but bragging rights and would bring them no closer to a championship. In the NFL championships are determined on the field and a team is still alive until they are beaten. Whatever else one wants to say about college football, this is the one thing that will always keep it from being taken seriously by true sports fans. The lack of a real champion at the end of the season leaves the whole sport empty and meaningless.
Obviously this list can be expanded way beyond five. We can do without the marching bands playing the fight song every time there's a first down. Give me "Welcome to the Jungle" any day over "Fight, fight, for old State U" when my team is about kickoff. If I want school spirit I'll go to a pep rally, not a football game. And male cheerleaders? Come on. And NFL games aren't played for a golden axe or a little brown jug. There's an actual championship at stake and everybody's in it until they're out of it.
And anyone who says college football has more heart needs to watch some highlights of Ronnie Lott who, instead of sitting out the rest of a game with a broken finger told the trainer to cut it off so he could finish the game. Or Jack Youngblood who played an entire game with a broken leg. Or Emmitt Smith grimacing in pain over his broken ribs after every carry. Or Steve Young throwing his body around like a rag doll for his team. I don't think these guys had money on their mind at these moments.
Speaking of money, athletes salaries are determined by supply and demand just like ours. I make 1% of what Randy Moss makes because his job is 100 times more in demand than mine. People who want to sit around and complain about this just aren't in touch with reality. It's the college players that get screwed because they are not compensated for the demand that they supply. All they get is a free education while their schools rake in the dough. To say that they play with more heart just because they're not getting paid is like saying a 5 year old in a sweat shop in Taiwan works with more heart than me.
As for me, I'll take a beautiful afternoon filled with tailgating, stands filled with loyal fans of all ages decked out in their team's colors, and a game that has the possibility to lead to an actual championship played by the best athletes in the world any day.
Now if only I was this good at debating theology...
"Pro football is a game, not a war. It's for win or lose, not life or death. But, say that in the summer; for winter brings the playoffs, and a season is at stake." --John Facenda