An old friend from college called me earlier this week in response
to ads he had seen from DirecTV about how they are including the
NFL Ticket free for 2011. "I guess that means the labor dispute
is over," he said, "but I couldn't find any articles that
said there definitely would be a season. Everything I read said
that a deal is getting close, but the dates on the articles mean
that a deal has been getting close week after week for months now.
Then I remembered you write about football, so I Googled you and
found an article you
wrote in June that said you expected an official agreement to be
in place by July 4th. Did they get a deal done on time? Are they
working on something else now? I can't really make out anything
definite based on the links I'm finding."
I had the pleasure of confessing to Randy then (and must confess
to my readers now) that I was obviously wrong a labor agreement
being reached by July 4th. Randy sounded more disappointed to learn
that I had been wrong than he was about the labor dispute itself,
and I found myself envious of him and the casual football fans like
him who haven't been worrying about whether training camps will
start on schedule. If the labor dispute isn't resolved in time for
the Hall of Fame game scheduled for August 7th between the Bears
and Rams, Randy won't care. He isn't going to spend his summer getting
sucked into the bluffy, huffy ongoing drama between the NFL and
the NFLPA. The first game of the 2011 season will either happen
or it won't--and if it doesn't, that is when Randy will start to
miss the NFL. He isn't going to expend a calorie of mental energy
worrying about artificial deadlines, transition rules, the upcoming
owners' meeting in Atlanta, or any of a thousand other signs and
symptoms that might or might not have anything to do with a contract
I wish I could simply turn off the worry that the 2011 season is
wholly or partially in jeopardy. I wish I could think about something
else related to the NFL. When I see an article about the top 10
fantasy QBs in 2011 or the impact that reduced salaries for top
draft picks could have on the way teams allocate their resources,
I try to plunge in energetically. But by the end of the first paragraph,
I can feel my brain sagging. Am I wasting my time reading?
When I stumbled across "The
Mysterious Moving NFL Lockout End Date" by Jason Brewer
(the manager of Bleeding Green Nation), I felt that a kindred spirit
was speaking for me and many of my colleagues:
It started back in June when . . . one source
even speculated that the papers could be “drawn up”
by Friday of that week if
they wanted to. They weren’t.
Sources even told Washington
Post reporter Mark Maske that in the wake of those meetings,
it was “increasingly realistic” that a deal could get
done before the July 4th holiday. It didn’t.
Then the date July
15th emerged [because missing that date meant] owners stood
to lose $800 million in preseason revenue. Now, it seems, that date
isn’t so firm.
This past week, ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Chris Mortenson jointly
reported that the NFL is now shooting for July 21st as the day a
new deal will be ratified. . . . So now
July 21st is the day the lockout ends... or is it? Not according
to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, who hears that an
agreement will be done on July 17th.
Giants safety Antrel Rolle [recently indicated] he was tired of
the moving lockout end date as well [when he remarked in an interview],
"I have been hearing that it is going to get done in a week,
two weeks, ever since the beginning of March, so I’m at the
point right now that whenever it happens I’ll be ready and
whenever I get that call I’ll be ready. That’s the only
thing I’m looking forward to right now.”
According to Brewer, the labor dispute has put NFL fans in the position
of Charlie Brown and the NFL in the position of Lucy. We keep trying
to run up to the ball that Lucy is holding and kick it, but at the
last second Lucy pulls it aside. We keep kicking the air and falling
over. We are gullible enough to have fallen for the trick over and
over, but I think I pulled a hamstring when the July 4th date came
and went. Now I can't even run up to the ball to kick it. I just
sit in a wheelchair well behind Lucy--eyeing the ball warily.
I don't mean to come across as a defeatist. I think it's great that
there is continued optimism about a deal being reached "soon."
The labor dispute doesn't have to be a drain on our energy--as proven
by FFToday's "End
the Lockout Contest" on the FFToday Board and Facebook.
We can have fun with the lockout as with the NFL season--as long
as the lockout doesn't compromise the NFL season. Part of me wants
to share Krueger's optimism about declaring the winner of the contest
soon, but most of me thinks the best post in the thread is the one
from Mike MacGregor in which he indicates that there may need to
be a Part 2 of the contest--just in case everyone's guess was too
early (which is exactly how the last four months have played out).
I received no responses to June's
question about how fantasy commissioners might respond to a
shortened NFL season. My apologies to Kevin for the dearth of feedback,
but I can't blame readers for being unwilling to cross that bridge
until they come to it. "Good grief!" some of the readers
of the June column must have thought, "crossing bridges prematurely
is dangerously like letting Lucy hold your football."
For responses to this month's fantasy question please email