NFL Labor Pains
Around this time of year my love of the NFL is usually at a fever pitch. There are fantasy drafts to scout for, Madden is usually spinning nonstop in my video game console and the Bills still provide a gleam of hope, never matter it is a small sliver. This year something seems off, and it took me a while to get there but I realize what it is. The constant noise of labor issues and an impending lock out are drowning out any positive vibes that the new season usually provides and I am pretty pissed off about it.
The lockout really hit me this week when Peter King addressed it in his MMQB column on CNNSI.com ( It is a must read for football nuts, at least during years when labor issues are not on the forefront.) He put the odds of a lockout at 80 percent. I found that a staggering and depressing number. Peter King usually has a good feel for NFL issues. When you look at the talking points it does seem inevitable; the Owners and NFLPA feel like they could not be farther apart.
If these two parties cannot find a way to create a new CBA that works for both parties and there is a lock out I think I will have to punt on pro football. Before you scoff and call my statement a bluff let me share a few facts that I think prove I am serious.
- I have become quite a college football fan over the past few years. There are more games available, and while I root for the Orange there is not the deep attachment that I have with the Bills. It is a win for me, football without the inevitable emotionally crippling pain.
- I used to be in love with baseball. 1994 helped cure that. Sure I have found my way back to being a fan, but it has not been the same since the year MLB robbed Montreal of its best chance to win a World Series. Baseball has made other mistakes, most especially its current CBA, but the 1994 lock out showed the world and I that life did go on without baseball. I sure hope the NFL looks at this example.
- The Bills are likely to leave Buffalo in the next 5 years. They are my team and I could not imagine rooting for another. Even if I did eventually pick (or allow my son to pick) another team for me to root for I know it would not be the same. So when the Bills go they will take a piece of my heart, the piece that loves football, with them.
Maybe the owners get their 18 game season and a reasonable rookie wage scale (long overdue) and feel like winners (dumb idea btw). Maybe the players finally get guaranteed contracts and they feel like the winners. If a season is lost the ultimate losers will be the game of Pro Football and its fans.