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By Jessica Staub

Jessica Staub

By Jessica Staub

What is the first image that pops into your head when I say the words: men in tights, pig skin and The Rolling Stones? If you said NFL Kickoff 2005 you are correct! Sept 8 is the date for the kickoff heard ’round the football community. The big day kicks off with footage from The Rolling Stones’ concert in Detroit. Green Day, Good Charlotte, Maroon 5 and Kanye West are performing a free concert outside the LA Coliseum. The show is hosted by Freddie Prinze Jr. and Trisha Yearwood performs the national anthem before the helmet-clashing sounds of the New England Patriots and Oakland Raiders from Gillette Stadium echo in homes across America. In the 1st round draft, the number one pick was Alex Smith to San Francisco. In the AFC West, Oakland’s first pick was Fabian Washington from Nebraska, San Diego’s first pick was LB Shawne Merriman from the Giants, Denver picked Darrent Williams from Oklahoma State and Kansas City picked Derrick O. Johnson from Texas. So who is looking to be the best in the AFC West?

Antonio Gates surprised many by signing a six-year contract with the Chargers. Unfortunately, he will have to sit the first game of the season against Dallas on Sept. 1 as punishment for not adhering to a training camp deadline. The first round draft pick, Merriman, is known for his ability to throw down a quarterback or two. In college his nick name was “lights out.” And though no switches were flipped during his preseason games, Merriman still contributed a few tackles to the Chargers’ victory over St. Louis. But the Chargers’ offense remains strong with LaDainian Tomlinson running a few touchdowns here and there. Chargers are second in preseason standings with a record of 1-2-0 (as of Aug 29).

A team known for their unwillingness to lose, the Raiders hope to not let the preseason bleed over into the regular season. Raiders’ Randy Moss and LaMont Jordan are hoping to help lead the team to a strong season with quarterbacks Marques Tuiasosopo and Kerry Collins. Struggling in the preseason with a record of 0-3-0, diehard fans refuse to lose hope (as of Aug 29).

With a strong defense in the preseason, the Broncos stand to be a strong opponent to teams lacking offensively. Safety Brandon Browner is out after breaking the radius in his hand, but it was the only injury to occur and Denver is confident with the rest of their safeties. Denver also leads the preseason with a record of 3-0-0 (as of Aug 29).

Spending all of 2004 on injured reserve, Chiefs’ Mike Maslowski has been released. This doesn’t limit Maslowski to returning to KC in the future. Jonathan Quinn has signed a one-year contract with KS, but no further terms were disclosed. Kansas City is currently last in preseason standings with a record of 0-3-0 (as of Aug 29).

Preseason is exactly what it says it is: this is a warm up for the real deal. Though teams may be on the top right now, anything can happen come opening day.N.Y. Jets 28, Minnesota 21

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