If it were Maverick or even Iceman at the helm of the NFL ship I’d feel more comfortable now that our favorite sport has entered the danger zone. Remember just over 100-some-odd days ago when this all began? The lockout was an infant, new to the confusing world, so much to see and almost too much to learn. While we knew it had the potential to destroy the sport we loved we accepted its birth as a necessity to get to the next phase in pro football.
Now the lockout is a full fledged teenager with the keys to dad’s car, free reign of the house and access to the liquor locker. In other words, the lockout is in position to do irreparable damage.
These are the last days of the ‘what if’ scenarios. We are now entering the ‘what is’ portion as in ‘what is going to happen to the preseason?’
Camps are set to open in a matter of weeks and the annual Hall of Fame Game is set to kickoff in just over a month.
Still there is no resolution in place. Sure, there is plenty of “progress” talk. But what does that truly mean? Is there a deal on the table that just needs a once over from the lawyers? Has there been a handshake agreement made behind closed doors? Is Jerry Jones now the official mascot of American greed? We just don’t know yet. Time will tell.
What we do know is that there just isn’t much time at all.
Before teams can even get their camp rosters ready they’ve got to do a few things. You know, stuff like signing rookies, making contract offers to free agents or even attempting re-sign current players. All that won’t happen the second the lockout ends. That’s going to require more than a couple calls and a few e-mails.
Then there’s all the leg work that goes into prepping for camp. By the time HBO Hard Knocks shows up at you team’s campsite it’s as if everything always was. Not at all the case. Hard at work behind the scenes are ample staffers that see to everything from lodging arrangements for the players and coaches to making sure meals are prepared and served on time. Not to mention all the work that goes into prepping and transporting all the equipment, all of the audio and video technology not to forget all the diva request made by the vets.
You get the picture. And if you don’t just wait until you see all of the reports that come pouring out of NFL camps about how rushed the whole process is.
No matter what you may think of pro athletes they are just like you and me when it comes to work. Never mind the amount of money they’re paid to play a game, it is still a job.
When you show up to work you want to know all of the tools necessary for the job are in place and are fully functional. Just as you can’t be bothered with making sure there is toner in the printer five minutes before a staff meeting, Jason Campbell can’t be bothered with trying to figure out how to setup a DVD player five minutes before the QB meeting starts.
Teams and players alike need time to make sure everything is in place prior to taking the field. When you’re talking about vets remember these are guys that have a distinct routine for each and every camp. Breaking that routine can have trickle down effects. Rookies that have never been through a camp look to the vets for guidance. This too is an important part of the process.
To us we just see the possibility of missing preseason games. To coaches and players it might as well be the end of the entire season.
Without a full slate of preseason games and practices new coaches like Hue Jackson don’t get the full opportunity to learn their rosters. For guys hovering on the fringe it could be the end of a career. Timing is everything in the NFL and there’s no way of knowing just how many players might not get a job because they were never given a full audition.
Right now we’re only talking about the preseason. Give this lockout another two weeks and we could start talking about the regular season. Give this lockout another two months and we could start talking about next season.
All of this in the name of greed. Nobody is losing money in the NFL. And that’s the real crime being perpetrated by the lockout. Bandits that have already made off with billions have returned to rob the same bank again. Perhaps the lockout wasn’t what thrust the NFL into the danger zone. Maybe it was the lucrative TV deals. Whatever the case here is where we stand – somewhere between the Packers hoisting the Lombardi and the Hall of Fame induction that might not be accompanied by a game.