The Last Football Monday Until…

I don’t know about everyone else out there, but I am in denial. I know this is the last week of football this season, but what I don’t want to think about is the large Andy Reid in the room. The NFL labor issues could force the start of the 2011 season closer to 2012. Is that what that doomsday movie was about? That makes more sense than whatever Darren Daulton and company were talking about with the Mayan calendar.

You probably won’t hear too much about it this week. The NFL will want everything to be business as usual as we build up to the country’s biggest sporting event. Today we can rehash the awful Pro Bowl (nice job AFC quarterbacks), then we’ll have media day, we’ll get odd stories, if we’re lucky someone will miss curfew. After that we’ll be pounded with history for a couple days until it is finally time to see if the game and the Clydesdales can live up to expectations. There will be little talk of the lockout though, no reason to tarnish this prefab extravaganza.

And as a fan, I have to say that this is how I want it to be. I don’t want to know the gory details, just show me the product on the field. This is the time of the year that I am ready to let football go anyway. I can watch some hockey. I can shift from hot stove to Grapefruit League boxscores. I can forget about football until the draft, but will you be able to forget this year, or will you be wondering about a possible lockout?

I’m not sure where it comes from, but I just have this faith the deal will get done. Like I opened with, it could very well be denial. Maybe I think the NFL isn’t stupid enough to ruffle the feathers of their golden goose. Could the NFL survive a lockout? I’m sure they could, but it’s never a good business plan. We’ve gone a long time since a labor issue has disrupted an NFL season, and since then the league has only become more dominant on the sports landscape. Why risk that?

Maybe I think the players can’t afford to be locked out. The owners are coming from an uncommon position of power. You might be able to convince me that some NBA franchises are in financial trouble, but the NFL is a license to print money. The management side is so strong that the casual observer would find them unbreakable. The players will surely realize this and swallow whatever medicine they are given. 18 games? Yes, please.

Before this last season started the talk of a lockout was that it was inevitable. It was going to happen. Get ready for it. But, since then there has been some cautious optimism, and I have latched onto that. Maybe I would call it common sense more than anything else. No matter who has the upper hand the two sides need each other and they need to be playing games.

If it does come down to a lockout I know a couple things for certain. One, we’ll manage. It will be painful at times, but Sundays could end up being a lot more productive for some people. Some might have to latch onto a college team or take up adult league kickball, but we’ll find something to do. The other thing I can say for sure is that this time around I would have the players’ backs. I don’t want it to get to this point, but if it does, you have to side with guys who are already getting screwed, right? That’s my position anyway.

So, six days away from America’s biggest sporting spectacle, I’d encourage everyone to drink it in a little more this week. Savor every mind numbing story. Just in case…

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