Last week I predicted that at least three sportswriters would use the expression "what a difference a year makes" to describe the first week of NFL action. Here are the results.
I only found one writer that used the exact phrase "what a difference a year makes." The Boston Herald's Tom Massarotti wrote "What a difference a year makes" in comparing Tom Brady's 2007 week one performance to his 2006 week one performance.
But don't go calling my prediction wrong yet.
The Boston Globe's Mike Reiss, writing about the same game as Massarotti, wrote "But what a difference a year - and a player such as Randy Moss - makes."
Seattle Post-Intelligencer's Clare Farnsworth wrote that Nate Burleson "will get his opportunity to show what a difference a year can make."
The Sports Network's Shawn Clark wrote of Jacksonville's defense, "but what a difference a few months off make."
I hope you'll give me credit for the variations.
Let me offer you one further variation: Fanhouse's Ryan Wilson wrote of the Steelers' improved special teams, "What a difference an off-season of tedious, over-the-top special-teams drills can make." This is a variation of the same figure of speech, but used effectively: Wilson makes a statement about the efforts the team made to improve, suggesting that it is not merely the passage of time that changes things, but what you do with the time. It's not a dead phrase, but a pointed one.