Praise God on High, sing it from the roof of your house, this MOTHAEFFIN’ LOCKOUT BE OVER!!! It has been a strange and taxing emotional journey folks, but from the ashes rises the Phoenix. I have no idea what that means, but somehow we have braved the full gauntlet of this sordid mess - like Russell Crowe after the scene in Gladiator with the Tigers and Chariots and all the other crazy Roman death contraptions. Imagine if the gladiators had a Lockout, the fans in Anchient Rome would never tolerate that mess and would kill every last one of them and the all of the owners/fight commissioners/emperors – no one could avoid being caught in the bloodlusting fury of mob rule. But I digress…this strange saga is finally over (YAY!), so what have we learned?
- 1. Despite the power and magnitude of the NFL, it’s still a professional sport and labor negotiations are part of the deal.
It’s really unbelievable how complicated this beast turned out to be. I much prefer the days of just thinking that the players go out and play the game because they love it and the owners reward them with lots of money. I had no idea there could ever be this man judges, lawyers, unions, and all these crazy powerplays, media manipulations, etc. It really has been a headache. I love this sport and this team because I’m a fan of what happens on the field and now I kind of feel like I did a “behind the scenes” tour at Disney and now all of the rides have lost their magic because I’ve seen all the gears and levers that controls the mermaids and the man-eating squid on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. But I guess you have to accept that there’s an un-magical and at times very ugly machine that keeps all these things running smoothly.
- 2. The true beast of the internet/information age should be glaringly apparent by now.
If somehow the internet, ESPN, and NFL network also decided to Lockout, this would have felt a lot different. Labor strife has happened before in the NFL and seeing as this dispute consisted entirely in the offseason and did not interfere with any games, if we did not have the overbearing instant access to all this stuff, it probably never would have registered in the fans’ minds. There’s a lot of sensationalist journalism going on out there from the Adam Schefters and Peter Kings of the world, but make no mistake that Roger Goodell, De Smith, and the players were fueling all of it. The fans were asking for all that news and media circus stuff and they got it – but it sure made the whole experience a lot more nerve-wracking.
- 3. Most importantly, FINALLY FOOTBALL IS BACK – and should be worry-free for a long time.
That’s the most important thing. Football is happening and happening in full force this year and even though this Lockout has been a thorn in our side, it’s finally over and the owners and players did a lot of painful negotiating to create an agreement that is sustainable for the long term and does not have an opt-out clause for 10 years. Ultimately, that makes the league better and that’s what we all want. For Wayne Weaver and the Jaguars, it will always take more effort to thrive as a small market team, but the new CBA will make much of that easier, because a lot of thing (like Rookie Salaries) were running out of hand.
Everyone give yourselves a pat on the back – we made it through and it’s smooth sailing. HAPPY FOOTBALL SEASON 2011!!!
- Andrew Hofheimer