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Wednesday open thread: What is the best football to watch outside of the NFL?

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It’s times like this that make you appreciate even the most mediocre of football.

Detroit Lions v Buffalo Bills Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

It amazes me every offseason how spoiled I am. Every fall I spend my Sundays glued to the TV, critiquing which games are on when the Lions are done playing, complaining about the Sunday Night Football matchup or feeling let down that the day’s Lions game wasn’t as entertaining as I’d hoped.

It’s silly, in retrospect. I would travel long, treacherous roads just to watch the commercials of a Week 14 Monday Night Football game between the 2-10 Raiders and the 4-8 Chargers.

I exaggerate, of course, but man does the offseason make me realize how much I take the wealth of fall football for granted—especially given that we’re now staring down an unrealistic fall for any level of football.

In times like this, I’ll take whatever replay there is to offer, whether that’s a 2011 Wild Card playoff game, a Week 2 NCAA game, or a high school playoff game on ESPN3. It’s why in the NFL offseason I’ve had stints as a CFL fan, AFL fan, AAF fan and more (rest in peace to the latter two).

Question of the day: What is the best football to watch outside of the NFL?

My answer: I think the easy choice is the NCAA.

While there is a level of professionalism to leagues like the CFL, I find the nuances of alternative professional leagues to be overly distracting. Having three downs and 110 yards always trips me up. When the Arena Football League was still around, the tiny 50-yard fields totally changed the dynamic of the game. Seeing guys get running starts to every play made it feel like I was watching an air raid offense on Madden.

The NCAA can be a bit sloppy—after all, it is amateur football. However, the similarity in the game and the fact that it translates directly to the NFL make it oh so alluring. The flaws in schemes and players become topics of discussion on whether they’d fit on the Lions; Saturday becomes a scouting report for future Sundays. I think it’s the easy choice when it comes to an alternative to the NFL.

Right now though, I’ll take anything. Wear a mask so we can have football again.

What’s your favorite NFL alternative? let us know in the comments.