This is officially the final hour. The Oakland Raiders are slated to open training camp in Napa in exactly one month from today. As of this morning any Raider that made the trip to the team facility in Alameda will still be greeted by padlocks. We’ve heard plenty of rumors that an agreement is imminent. We were also told Robert Gallery was a can’t-miss-prospect. What does one have to do with the other? Well…nothing really…just pointing out that the proof is in the pudding.
We know how things ended for Gallery, a good guy but a terrible left tackle. As of now we have no idea how or when the lockout will end. Let’s just say this much, until players and coaches are allowed to actually talk to one another for more than a 24-hour period I’m not going to pay much credence to headlines of “progress being made” or “deal nearing”.
The rumored reports make even less sense then this lockout lasting this long.
All that being said, let’s not lose sight of the danger that looms on the horizon. If an agreement isn’t made in the next week then things could really reach a boiling point fast.
Since there is a certain independence celebration on the calendar you can go ahead and cross of three potential negotiating days in July. That gives both sides the last week of June to see some real progress made.
If players are still seeing padlocks come July 5th then I’m afraid too much will have been lost.
How exactly is free agency going to go if there are less than two weeks to prep for camp and to complete a roster? Now, you might think that two weeks seems like ample time. Keep in mind that is a best case scenario. For one second think of the NFL like any other business. What business model do you know that allows for two weeks for a multi-million dollar franchise to assess its current roster of employees, determine which ones should be retained and then turn around and recruit new talent outside of the organization?
You may argue that teams have had ample time to determine which players they’ll keep and whom they’ll go after in free agency. No doubt there have been plenty of discussion behind closed doors but those talks are all relative. Relative to the terms a new CBA. Relative to what price the market will set – in a narrow window of time – for potential free agents. Relative to just exactly whatever set of rules teams will be operating under.
In other words, everyone is flying blind in this cluster f&%@.
Given that players and coaches have had next to no contact with one another its imperative that they get the full allotment of time in training camp. Cutting camp short is a recipe for bad football.
Now bad NFL football is like pizza. Even when it’s bad it’s still better than the UFL or Little Caesar’s if we’re sticking with this pizza analogy.
Still, I’m not interested in seeing a throwaway season. I want a full slate of games where players have been given as much time as possible to prep. Given the big step forward the Raiders took last season it would be a major setback to see this lockout affect progress.
Time is precious in pro football. MLB, the NBA and the NHL might be able to survive and thrive under these conditions simply because those seasons are much longer than that of the NFL. With only 16 games to be played it leaves little time to get up to speed. Getting off to a slow start in the NFL can equate to a kiss of death being delivered in mid-October.
But that’s looking much too far down the line. The reality is a deal needs to be struck in the next week if there is really going to be any chance of salvaging this season. After that permanent damage will be done. Make no mistake, failing to prepare is preparing to fail. Some team is going to see their title hopes go the way of Robert Gallery if they’re given minimal time to prepare for next season. Let’s hope that team isn’t Oakland.