HAGERSTOWN, MD—With Major League Baseball's postseason still a month out and college football weeks away from conference play, the sports world continues to stagger toward the NFL's opening kickoff like a gut-shot doe spewing blood from its mouth and keening piteously with its last ragged breaths, sources reported Tuesday. "I can't wait for kickoff," one torpid fan told reporters while staring blankly at a TV screen showing a pointless Angels-Mariners game, a listless nine-inning contest that mimicked a deer's struggle to ride out the searing pain in its shredded viscera and drag itself to a sheltered spot to die. "It's about time." The NFL season will begin Thursday night as the Vikings-Saints game gets underway, with the majesty of a great hornèd stag silhouetted against the moon as it pauses to glance back over its rippling haunches before coursing once more toward freedom across vast and verdant fields, at 7:30 p.m. CDT in the Superdome.