Football Morning in America reader Hugh Royal shares NFL culture in small-town America

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Peter King is on vacation until July 15, and he lined up some guest writers to fill his Monday spot on Football Morning in America. Today, it’s Hugh Royal of Richfield, Idaho, who was selected out of a few hundred readers who submitted essays on why they wanted to be an FMIA guest columnist.

RICHFIELD, Idaho — I learned early in my work career about NFL fan extremism. As a production manager at the Avonmore Whey Plant in Idaho, I traveled for the job and once visited Wisconsin. The first night, I stayed at a local hotel with a lounge. I stopped for a beer before dinner. The Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings were playing on TV, and the Pack was losing, and I made what was probably a disparaging comment about Green Bay. Every head turned toward me and gave me a look like, “Who the hell are you and do you want to live?” When I got back from dinner that night, the desk clerk stopped me. He was pointed. He suggested for my own good that tomorrow I move to another hotel. I couldn’t believe he was serious, but I did move the next day. And was VERY careful about what I said after that.

It’s not like that where I live. I live in Richfield, Idaho. Richfield is a town of about 400 in south-central Idaho. We have blue sky and can see all the stars at night. We can see nearby snow-capped mountains. We’re 50 miles northeast of Twin Falls, and about a two-hour drive southwest of Boise. Richfield was established as a railroad town in the late 1800s. The total population of Idaho is still under two million.

We like keeping Idaho a secret. I am sure I will get some mail calling me bad names for letting the world know what a gem Idaho is. We are much more than just potatoes. But we’re small, and we make no apologies for it. The Richfield High School Senior class numbered 11 students this year. Nine graduated. Out of the nine, eight are going to college. Once you leave the township, your nearest neighbor is usually a mile or more away. It is quiet. Real quiet.

We don’t really have an NFL home team in Richfield. It’s difficult to call a team a “home” team and take it to heart when the closest league market is nine-and-a-half hours away by car. Think of our geography: We’re 630 miles southeast of Seattle, 700 miles from both Denver and Oakland, 840 miles from Phoenix, and don’t even think about making a car trip to see the Vikings in Minneapolis. They’re 1,300 miles east of us, and Montana’s pretty wide.

So in Richfield, there are fans who pledge allegiance to Seattle, Pittsburgh, Oakland, Arizona, San Francisco, Denver, Green Bay, Dallas, and the L.A. Rams—a veritable potpourri of NFL fandom.

Much of NFL life in Richfield happens around the bar named the Little Wood Saloon. The official bar motto is: Where the beer is cold and the BS is free. The saloon was originally a hardware store built in the early 1900’s. The original ceiling, hardwood floor and some doors are still in place. There are pictures on the wall of cowboys and their activities. There is a chandelier from a Nevada whorehouse on the ceiling. There are no NFL team pennants on the wall, no autographed football pictures or helmets. Quite a few people in the bar, and those “interviewed” for this column, are related either by blood or by marriage. That’s just the way it is in a small town.

During the NFL season, after a Sunday or Monday night game, or after the Super Bowl, the economy does not improve or get worse. No one calls in sick, no fights occur, and a baby boom does not happen nine months later. The season schedule is on the wall and people use it to see when their team is playing. We don’t know what a Cover 2 is. We can probably tell the difference between a 4-3 and a 3-4 defense by watching the game, but we don’t try and identify it as such.

We don’t watch the draft. We do track trades. Some play fantasy football. I don’t think any of us have actually watched an NFL game on our phones.

We know when someone throws for 400 yards or runs for 200 yards. We know when upsets occur, especially if New England gets beat. But the NFL isn’t exactly an obsession in Richfield.

Read more from Football Morning in America here

NFL quarterback rankings 2023: Chris Simms’ top 40 QB countdown ahead of upcoming NFL season


While the NFL is a league that is ever-changing, some things are set to stay the same in 2023 — like the revealing of Chris Simms’ top 40 QB countdown.

Last year’s list saw Josh Allen take his place atop the quarterback throne, with Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes and Los Angeles’ Justin Herbert not far behind at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively. It was, however, Mahomes who would ultimately reign over all NFL quarterbacks at the end of the season, as the 27-year-old collected both the NFL MVP honors and his second Lombardi Trophy.

This NFL offseason, however, has brought some intriguing adjustments that are likely to shake up Simms’ rankings.

While some signal-callers such as Jalen Hurts and Lamar Jackson found their prolonged home with massive contract signings, others will be venturing to a new franchise in search of a fresh start. Aaron Rodgers‘ trade to the New York Jets is unquestionably the most staggering shift, but other quarterbacks on the move such as Derek Carr and Jimmy Garoppolo cannot be forgotten.

RELATED: Mike Florio gives an inside look into the Lamar Jackson deal

And with three of the first four picks in the 2023 NFL Draft being spent on a quarterback, emerging talent will likely turn the tides for some franchises this upcoming season.

See below for Chris Simms’ top 40 QB countdown ahead of the upcoming season. Be sure to subscribe to Chris Simms Unbuttoned for more on the 2023 NFL season as well as an unfiltered look at the NFL featuring player access, unabashed opinion, X&O film breakdown and stories from a life in and around football.

RELATED: Peter King’s latest offseason NFL power rankings

Chris Simms’ 2023 Top 40 QB Countdown:

40. Desmond Ridder (ATL)

39. Sam Howell (WAS)

38. Bryce Young (CAR)

37. CJ Stroud (HOU)

36. Anthony Richardson (IND)

35. Mike White (MIA)

34. Gardner Minshew (IND)

33. Taylor Heinicke (ATL)

32. Jarrett Stidham (DEN)

31. Jordan Love (GB)

30. Davis Mills (HOU)

29. Tyler Huntley (BAL)

28. Andy Dalton (CAR)

27. Sam Darnold (SF)

26. Brock Purdy (SF)

25. Kenny Pickett (PIT)

24. Baker Mayfield (TB)

23. Justin Fields (CHI)

22. Jimmy Garoppolo (LV)

21. Tua Tagovailoa (MIA)

20. Mac Jones (NE)

19. Kyler Murray (AZ)

18. Derek Carr (NO)

17. Jared Goff (DET)

16. Ryan Tannehill (TEN)

15. Geno Smith (SEA)

14. Russell Wilson (DEN)

2023 NFL Schedule Release: Start time, how to watch, live stream, channel


With another exciting NFL Draft in the books, teams can now turn their gaze toward the road to Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas. The path to Super Bowl glory, however, is about to become abundantly more clear with the 2023 NFL season schedule release.

This year’s NFL season schedule release is nearly here, with the entirety of the 2023 NFL schedule being unveiled on Thursday, May 11 at 8 p.m. ET on both Peacock and NFL Network. See below for everything you need to know for one of the offseason’s most anticipated events.

RELATED: Click here for full analysis on Rounds 1-7 of the 2023 NFL Draft

When will the 2023 NFL season schedule be released?

While all 272 matchups have been known since the conclusion of the 2022 regular season, the order and dates for these games have remained a mystery. The secret is nearly out, however, with every NFL game on the brink of revelation.

The full 2023 NFL schedule will be released on Thursday, May 11 at 8:00 p.m. ET.

How can I watch the 2023 NFL season schedule release?

The 2023 NFL season schedule release will take place Thursday, May 11 on Peacock, NFL Network, and the NFL app at 8 p.m. ET.

While the entirety of the schedule will be unveiled at that time, select games have already been and will continue to be released prior to the official event. Ahead of the 2023 NFL season schedule release, the following games will be announced:

Who will play in the 2023 NFL Kickoff game?

The first game of the 2023-24 NFL season will see the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs take the field in Arrowhead Stadium.

The opponent that will meet Patrick Mahomes and company in Kansas City, however, remains to be revealed.

Which NFL teams have international games in 2023?

While the majority of the matchups set to take place next season have yet to be announced, the league has already revealed which teams will head overseas for international showdowns.

Below is the full list of international NFL games for the 2023-24 season, with three in London, U.K., and two in Frankfurt, Germany.

Falcons vs. Jaguars: Week 4, Oct. 1 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Wembley Stadium in London, U.K.

Jaguars vs. Bills: Week 5, Oct. 8 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, U.K.

Ravens vs. Titans: Week 6, Oct. 15 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, U.K.

Dolphins vs. Chiefs: Week 9, Nov. 5 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Frankfurt Stadium in Frankfurt, Germany

Colts vs. Patriots: Week 10, Nov. 12 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Frankfurt Stadium in Frankfurt, Germany

RELATED: NFL’s 2023 international games full of “star power”

When is the Super Bowl and where will it be taking place?

Stars will be shining bright in Las Vegas, Nevada, for Super Bowl LVIII, set to take place on Feb. 11, 2024, at the home of the Raiders in Allegiant Stadium.

This will be the first Super Bowl to ever take place in Las Vegas, which hosted the 2023 Pro Bowl and 2022 NFL Draft.

Be sure to follow ProFootballTalk for the latest news, updates, and storylines about the upcoming NFL season!