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Mike Davis | Archive | Email  
Staff Writer

Worn out by Weekly Bouts of Retrospectively Unjustified Optimism

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 resolution.

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 me.