Ready for some real, live professional gridiron action?
It started on Thursday when the Canadian Football League began its 2011 regular season.
British Columbia and the defending champion Montreal Alouettes had the honor of kicking off the new campaign Thursday night, while on Friday Hamilton hosts Winnipeg and Toronto travels to Calgary.
Opening weekend ends on Sunday with Edmonton at Saskatchewan.
As a longtime fan of the CFL I get excited about a new year because I can usually find the games on TV.
For a while America One televised contests to the lower 48, and cable stations such as CSS and Versus would occasionally find a spot on the schedule for some "three downs to make a first down, 12 men to a side" action.
I'm a Hamilton Tiger-Cats fan (can't tell you why ... I just am), and I always take great pride in slipping on my black and gold colors when the Ti-Cats are on the tube.
For the second year in a row CFL games will be broadcast on the NFL Network, and my cable provider doesn't provide the NFL Network.
So in a bit of cruel irony, the league that is currently locking out players is locking me out of watching good pro football on its network because it continues to engage in a spitting contest with several cable companies.
Fortunately CFL matchups are also on ESPN3, so I can watch them on my computer.
It's not as good as getting them on the big screen, but hey, you take what you can get.
I've always had great appreciation for the men who play in the CFL, but it's even greater these days.
While NFL owners and players are squabbling over how to gobble up a $9 billion pie, the monetary slice in Canada is tiny by comparison.
In fact, it was one year ago when the league and its players reached a new four-year agreement that sets a $4,300,000 team salary cap for this season, minimum team salaries of $3,900,000 and minimum player salary of $43,000 per season.
Not a lot of millionaires here.
Still, the CFL continues to get the best Canadian-born players who -- sprinkled in with a few United States imports -- manage to provide top quality football entertainment.
Yeah, knowing your team has just three downs to make a first down takes some getting used to, along with a CFL team's ability to score a single point on a missed field goal.
Yet for me, it's those quirks that make it different and fun. And it's the hard work of the players and coaches that make it professional football.
Hopefully the suits and the athletes in the NFL will solve their problems in time to avoid canceling any games in 2011.
But whether they do or whether they don't, the CFL starts playing on Thursday.
To that I say, "Thanks."
And "Go Ti-Cats."