It took 136 days, but the NFL lockout has officially come to an end. Now, what usually takes place over a span of four months will now be done in a week. Get ready for a free agent frenzy this week before teams begin reporting to camp. Here are a few thoughts on the lockout, the end of, and the beginning of the 2011 NFL season.
1. My thoughts and opinions of the players union and DeMaurice Smith have not changed. I have felt (and still do) that the players made this happen. The owners got this deal approved last week and the players said they were being cornered into a deal. Obviously, they couldn't have been cornered too bad considering the deal was approved. Maybe the owners felt this was their only opportunity to get anything done.
2. Robert Kraft's statement yesterday was way out of line. After the players approved the owners' proposal, the owner of the Patriots stated, "I hope we gave a little lesson to the people in Washington because the debt crisis is a lot easier to fix than this deal was." Not even close. I love sports and I love football more than anyone, but the debt crisis and the future of our country trumps football. The $14 trillion US debt dwarfs the $9.5 billion NFL. Plus, you weren't half as successful as you think you were. Sports people should stay out of politics and politicians should stay out of sports.
3. There was a slight loss due to the lockout. The annual Hall of Fame Game in Canton which was scheduled for a week from Saturday will not happen. How much of a loss is it? The Bears and Rams are both back to four preseason games as opposed to five. The enshrinement ceremony will still happen, however, fans will no longer be subjected to exhibition football.
4. This year's free agent crop was thought at one point to be weak. However, some big names that are currently under contract are being dangled around as potential trade bait. The long standing rumor during the lockout has been where Eagles QB Kevin Kolb will be dealt to. Broncos QB Kyle Orton may be on the auction block as well. Will Donovan McNabb be back with the Redskins? Is Matt Hasselbeck done in Seattle? Lots of QB questions to be answered in the next days.
It's time for football...FINALLY! No longer is it about lawyers and dollars, it's now about blocking and tackling. The way it should have been for the last 136 days.