When sports crown a new NBA champion & NHL Stanley Cup winner, it begins the summer sports lull that is usually filled by the start of NFL mini-camps and the start of training camp. A buzz normally fills the air on what teams are looking good in training camp, even before the preseason opener.
This year is different. This year we are being submitted to endless baseball highlights & whatever else ESPN can show during SportsCenter due to continued arguing over a billion dollar industry. A summer that should be filled with players and teams preparing for gridiron battle.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has reduced his pay to $1 for the duration of the lockout. With each passing day not being paid, players miss out on crucial practices and playing tim. However, fans have it much worse: they are stuck at home with no hope of a Super Bowl come January. Stuck with Packers fans bragging about their epic title run. Stuck talking about a season that may never come.
Goodell says that the lockout isn’t just to benefit players and owners though; fans will benefit as well. Fans never benefit when players and owners talk about what money they are owed.
Fans wait to make certain decisions before the season starts. What single games do they want to purchase, what away games to attend, what to buy in preparation for tailgating, when to buy that new HDTV, and other decisions usually made before football begins.
Certain fans have already given up their season tickets. Some have had it with riisng ticket prices and others just feel the lockout was the last straw in seeing how little the fans mean to the NFL. Some Jets fans have not just given up their seats, but trying to sell their PSL’s as well.
“That’s why we are trying to get a better economic model” Goodell told reporters last week. “And I think everyone understands that. You (the fans) are not being left out of the equation. The fans are a big part of that equation and a big part of the success of NFL football.” He sees costs being passed down to the fan that would be prevented with a better business model. Costs are already too high so any economic change for the fan is good.
Free agency is a critical time for teams to acquire new players to help supplement their squad. The big signings that occur every year and change the landscape of the NFL excite fans for the coming season. This is when we can stop talking about the Super Bowl champion and have a reason to feel that this year is different.
Last year former Carolina Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers was probably the biggest name amongst free-agent signees. Peppers went on to be a contributor for the Chicago Bears with 8 sacks against constant double teams. Bears fans were sure they were on the right path to win the big game.
This year it’s supposed to be whatever team can land Nnamdi Asomugha, a cornerback who has proven that he can shut down half the field. Unfortunately, he won’t find a home until the lockout finally comes to an end. Same goes with the NFL rookies. Drafted by their new organizaton, they can not be signed or talked to.
Our favorite players are also getting into trouble because they have too much time on their hands. Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt was charged with resisting arrest and tampering with evidence this week when he crushed a joint as police approached him. The police didn’t find any drugs on him, but this is likely a situation that would have been avoided if players were focused on the season.
Now the Titans are entering the season with a diminished receiving group and are likely facing another sub-par year. Less time to work with coaches, less time to improve.
Former Giants and Steelers wide receiver Plaxico Burress just got out of jail but can’t sign with a team because of the lockout. The best he can do is workout and practice with others so he can get into some kind of playing shape.
Formerly a dynamic game changing receiver and Super Bowl hero, Burress will enthuse the fans of whatever team he goes to – if and when he does actually get signed.
I hope Goodell is sincere that the resulting post-lockout business model reduces costs that are being passed down to fans. We are the reason the league is so successful, and the more of the league year us fans lose to the lockout the more interested we will become in things not related to the NFL. Goodell should learn from what happened to MLB and the NHL.