Sure, the NFL is playing games again, but that's not what anyone is talking about. (Bob Booth/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS)

Sure, the NFL is playing games again, but that's not what anyone is talking about. (Bob Booth/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS)

Are you ready for (anything except) some football?

You waited 214 days for the start of the NFL season, Sluggo. Now that it’s here, one would think the all the talk would be about, um, er, ah, you know — football.

But nooooo, not in the No Fun League.

A lot of the buzz, too much of the buzz still centers around how many players will take a knee for the national anthem …

And Ezekiel Elliott, who somehow, some way will be allowed to play in the Dallas Cowboys’ opener despite a six-game suspension that has team owner-enabler Jerry Jones at odds with league headquarters …

And Seattle Seahawks activist Michael Bennett, who says that police drew guns on him for no good reason after the Conor McGregor-Floyd Mayweather scam last week …

And Colin Kaepernick and why he doesn’t have a job despite all his baggage and unfortunate quarterback play …

And Kap’s girlfriend Nessa Diab, who took a dump on Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti in a tweet that likened him to a plantation owner, while unbeknownst to her, Bisciotti was about to allegedly offer Kaepernick a contract …

And about an investigation that claimed Tom Brady did not suffer a concussion as his better half Giselle Bundchen disclosed recently, which kinda makes you wonder which quarterback she had on her mind …

And that doesn’t include the handful of cheaters and women-beaters who will hog the spotlight before long …

So would it be any surprise that, one year after NFL television ratings went down the porta-potty, even fewer fans will care at all?

GOTTA START SOMEWHERE: Balls set out to say something positive about the Santa Clara semi-pro team in advance of its opener against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, so here it is …

Nope, that’s not it. … Wait a second. … Thanks for your patience. … Aha, here it is — Santa Clara will actually take a step up in execution and performance in coach Kyle Shanahan’s debut season. That goes especially at the defensive side of the ball, which the front office has invested eight draft picks in the first three rounds to upgrade in the last three years.

Wait — there’s some even better news.

The rest of the NFC West has gotten better as well. That means Santa Clara can move forward, still have a lousy record and keep its draft status intact. That’s about as good as it gets for a team early in a massive rebuild project.

It’s not in the best interests of Shanahan and general manager John Lynch to move too fast, anyway. Both are in the first year of six-year contracts. Better to make slow-but-steady improvement than a premature quantum leap. It’s called Management Strategy 101, girls and boys.

AGAINST ALL ODDS: Sure-miss picks against the spread in Week 1 of the NFL season …

Arizona (+2.5 points) at Detroit Lions

Indianapolis Colts at Los Angeles Rams (under 40.5)

New York Giants (+6) at Dallas Cowboys

Pittsburgh (-9.5) at Cleveland Browns

2016 record: Don’t remember.

HEY, LOOK … Pablo Sandoval hasn’t gotten a hit in 38 at-bats, the longest oh-fer for any Giants player since the team moved west, but he did stay at a Holiday Inn Express once!

YOUR TURN: “You are right — the Giants sucked since the second half of last year, but I attribute it to manager Bruce Botchie (Bochy)! He blew another game the other day by putting in Cory Gearrin with the bases loaded. Gearrin has been allowing inherited runners to score all season. Last year they lost a 5-2 lead in the ninth inning against the Chicago Cubs by bringing in the same lousy relievers that did the same thing all year. Could have changed history and faced the Dodgers in a best-of seven series! Yeah, Botchie is not the great manager too many make him out to be.” — Frank Fanconti, San Francisco

Got an opinion? A gripe? A compliment? A compliment?! Send them to pladd@aol.com, and who knows, you may get your name in the paper before long.

Dallas Cowboysezekiel elliottMichael BennettRoger GoodellSan Francisco 49ers

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