It’s finally back, and it’s better than I imagined.

Like countless other fans, for months and months, I’ve been longing for the NFL to open its season. After all, who wouldn’t be itching for the game’s return after the way things ended in February?

For anyone who might have forgotten, the New England Patriots pulled off the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history en route to defeating the Atlanta Falcons and essentially crowing Tom Brady as the best quarterback ever.

So, naturally, almost every diehard fan has anticipated the NFL’s return in hopes of seeing similar showings.

Obviously, games like that don’t roll around every weekend, but when the NFL opened its season last week, it was everything I wanted and more.

There were high-scoring games, hard hits, spectacular displays of athleticism, heartwarming stories, unexpected outcomes, breakout performances and pretty much anything else a fan could desire.

It was one of the better opening weeks I can remember, but even if it weren’t, I would have still been glued to the television.

While I love college football, it pales in comparison to the professional ranks.

Obviously, the NFL is the premier destination when it comes to the sport, equipped with the best players and coaches on the face of the planet, and there is just something special about when they compete.

I still love the NCAA’s product, and the college atmosphere greatly surpasses the NFL. Nothing tops the hoopla of a college gameday with the tailgating, infectious school spirit and rambunctious fans.

And I should know.

In full disclosure, I graduated from the University of Texas, where football is almost more of a religion than a pastime, and I attended my fair share of games as a student.

Just to be clear, I was there on the heels of the Longhorns’ national championship victory against Southern Cal in 2005 and not the disappointing days surrounding Mac Brown’s departure or Charlie Strong’s failed tenure. So, the joyous mood was infectious before, during and after the games.

Still, if you’re not experiencing it in person, it doesn’t compare. As a fan sitting on your couch, the NFL has far more to offer.

I’ll watch the league with professionals over talented amateurs any day. Every athlete strives to reach the highest level of his or her sport, and if they do, they find themselves competing with others possessing similar elite skills.

While I give all the credit in the world to college athletes for all they do, including the tricky act of balancing academics and athletics, but the bar is raised so much higher in the NFL versus college.

You will see things on Sundays that you could never witness on a Saturday simply because the players are so much further advanced.

The NFL is finally back, and it’s better than I imagined.

Now, let’s just hope the season ends with another Super Bowl for the ages.

Contact Clay Whittington at clayw@kdhnews.com

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