Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Lockout Day 56

I never thought for one second the NFL owners and players would let their labor dispute interrupt the 2011 football season, but on day 56 of the lockout I'm beginning to have my doubts. The judicial process is taking much longer than expected and every one's timetable is out of whack. Players can't talk to coaches, teams can't make trades or sign free agents, rookies can't get play books, and no one is working out together. Mini camps have been cancelled and before you know it (10 weeks from now) teams will start to miss preseason games. The end of the lockout is nowhere in sight and both sides are still miles apart. Is there anything for football fans to feel optimistic about?

Let's look on the bright side. The NFL is still a $9,000,000,000 entity and both the owners and players have a vested interest on resolving their differences. Both sides understand the fans have become disenchanted with the labor dispute and the economic ramifications could be drastic. If money is the bottom line (and it appears that is the case) any sort of prolonged work stoppage will result in financial loss and a decrease in fan enthusiasm and participation. Neither the owners or the players can afford to let that happen.

At some point this year there will be NFL football, but certain aspects of the process will be abbreviated. We won't see as much player movement or free agent signings because the time allotted to evaluate those players has been reduced significantly. Most teams won't look much different than a year ago. We will see a rash of injuries because the players aren't conditioning themselves the way they are accustomed to. It will all be thrown together at the last second and the quality of the game will suffer. Too much time has elapsed to have a normal season, but a patchwork season is better than no season at all. Keep your fingers crossed sports fans.

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