The Packers are Super Bowl Champions signifying the end of the 2010-2011 NFL season and now it’s time to face reality. With the expiration of the CBA less than a month away and what seems to be an impasse between the owners and Players Association, it looks like football fans are in for a winter of despair. Being a tortured Buffalo Bills fan already, I’m used to disappointment but the offseason is usually like Christmas for me. Every year I look forward to watching the NFL Combine to see the next crop of NFL talent and the hope of “maybe next year.”
Although a Lockout (it feels like a knife to the stomach every time I say that) wouldn’t affect the Combine and the NFL Draft, it would end any hope of free agency. Even though the Bills haven’t been major players in the free agent market over the past few seasons, unless you consider Dwan Edwards a major signing, I felt that signing Shawne Merriman may have signified a changing of the tide at One’s Bill Drive. If the CBA doesn’t get done by March 3rd that point will be moot however. It’s hard to debate that a 4-12 team is that close to becoming a playoff contender but after watching the Bills this season it was clear that they have taken several steps in the right direction and a solid offseason could put them very close to where they need to be.
Losing the offseason would pale in comparison to losing the actual season but the thought of not being able to follow the free agent and trade transactions for the next few months really churns my stomach. Since I can remember I would stay up until the wee-hours of the morning the day that free agency would open and follow the transactions on NFL.com, ESPN, various chat boards and more recently twitter. As pathetic or borderline insane as it may sound I’ve missed classes, work and family gatherings to stay up to date with NFL transactions. Not being able to look forward to that is borderline depressing.
Thinking optimistically, the NFL is by far the highest grossing sports franchise in the U.S. and I can’t imagine the powers that be allowing a lockout to happen and I do believe Roger Goodell is the best person to mediate a solution. Also, many NFL players are horrible with their money and shockingly enough live paycheck to paycheck so once they feel that financial pinch they should cave. For all of our sakes let’s just hope it’s sooner rather than later.