And so we’ve reached Friday. A very happy TGIF to the NFL owners and general managers out there as they’ve had quite a busy week. The NFL lockout ended just four days ago on Monday and I can confidently say just based on our web traffic here at BaltimoreSportsReport.com, that the National Football League is poised for a gigantically successful season with fans.
As I sit here on Friday and look back at how we got to where we are I can’t help but think that this whole situation, the way the NFL lockout happened and concluded was almost too perfect. When the topic of football got brought up around water coolers in American offices back in May and June people would often agree that the NFL, and Roger Goodell specifically weren’t, stupid enough to lose a whole football season. Not only were they right, but I have to wonder if Goodell, DeMaurice Smith and hell even Drew Brees for that matter were on to something even bigger in those meetings around the country during the labor dispute.
I’m talking about a conspiracy theory here folks and one that I call The Great NFL Lockout Conspiracy. This little doozy might not fit up there with the moon landing or second shooter theories, but it certainly has me scratching my head and wondering if I was a part of a hidden plot to make football even more popular in 2011 than it has been in year’s past. Am I sounding crazy yet? Good. But stay with me here folks.
I certainly believe that the NFL owners and player’s association needed a new collective bargaining agreement, not even I am crazy enough to argue that. But I believe that together these two organizations made the best of what could have been an otherwise terrible situation.
All year long the national sports analysts have been forced to cover a labor dispute rather than meaningful talk about player transactions and rookie contracts. The league put their fans and the media on hold for months. Then all of the sudden, conveniently on a Monday morning at the start of a work week the NFL opened it’s flood gates. Suddenly, the media and franchises were forced to fill months of missed time into a week. Players were being cut, moved and traded in what has proven to be the most exciting week of offseason football I can remember. In my workplace, talks have shifted from baseball trade rumors with the MLB trade deadline ending Sunday, to Fantasy Football and new additions to the power houses around the NFL. Coincidence? I think not.
Football didn’t need to make itself any bigger, but they were forced to sign a new agreement with the players. By acting as they did what did they really lose? Maybe a couple of training camps that were open to the public or perhaps a bit of summer coverage and a reality television show. But I promise you that they’ve made up for that in this week alone.
How exciting has it been to see Albert Haynesworth and Chad Ochocinco join the Patriots or Donovan McNabb get moved to the Vikings or watch Reggie Bush take his talents to South Beach orwonder which team Nnamdi Asomugha will end up on? All of those story lines have unfolded in the past 72 hours. Last year it took Brett Favre that long just to say he wasn’t sure if he was coming out of retirement.
The NFL is a powerhouse and those water cooler talking American fans were absolutely right. This league isn’t stupid. They know their audience and they know how to get them excited about an upcoming season. It took something different to get the buzz going, it took the threat of no season. Now it’s on and America has found itself hooked on the drug of football once again. We couldn’t wait to get our fix.
The Great NFL Conspiracy might not be a conspiracy at all, it was right in front of us the whole time. All at once the floodgates of this game opened up, at a convenient time, and we’ve been glued to our TV’s, radios and twitter to see what’s going to happen next. Bravo NFL.
Zach Wilt is the founding editor of BaltimoreSportsReport.com. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on twitter @zamwi. He also may have watched Katy Perry’s TGIF video in it’s entirety while writing this article.