Are you ready for some football?
136 days. That’s how long it took for the National Football League (NFL) and its players to reach an agreement and end the 2011 lockout. Although the prolonged work stoppage will surely affect the quality of play this season, the NFL lockout has undoubtedly resulted in one of the league’s most anticipated years since its first season in 1920.
The lockout did not come as a surprise to fans, who were warned of the inevitable expulsion years before. Sure enough, right after the 2010-2011 season ended, an off-season full of uncertainty followed.
Rookies were not allowed to meet with coaches to run through their respective team’s playbook. Veterans could not use team facilities to train, or communicate with their coaches at all for that matter. And teams could not practice and thus make the necessary adjustments to prepare for the upcoming season.
While the future of the NFL was uncertain, one thing was evident: the lockout kept fans on the edge of their seats wondering whether or not professional football would be played that fall. Although there was doubt, most fans, including myself, expected the owners and players to come to an agreement in time for the 2011-2012 season. However, the lockout seemed to go on forever and the thought of not having football started to creep into our minds.
How would I fill the void of having no fantasy football? What would I do on Sunday afternoons without the entertainment of NFL games? These questions frequently surfaced in my mind. The thought of no football was disheartening.
“How can we not have football?” I thought.
However, on July 25th everything changed. The owners and the players settled their differences and put an end to the lockout. Relief swept the nation and elated fans everywhere.
After 136 days of uncertainty, football was back.
Now that the lockout has ended, fans are more eager than ever for the season to begin. A condensed, hectic few weeks of free agency that directly followed the lockout got people thinking about football again and greatly contributed to the hype surrounding the 2011-2012 season. Even though teams have had less time to prepare for the upcoming season, and the level of play at the start of the season may not be up to par, it remains one of the most anticipated seasons in NFL history.
The NFL, already a $9 billion business, dominates television ratings that are bound to grow even more this season due to the excitement the lockout has caused. In fact, the NFL season is so greatly anticipated that President Barack Obama moved his jobs speech up an hour so that is did not conflict with the league’s opener between the New Orleans Saints and the Green Bay Packers on Thursday night.
Football, has become an integral part of American culture and the conclusion of the lockout sparked an even greater appreciation for the game of football, specifically the NFL. The thought of losing America’s most popular sport for as little as one season made us realize how much we love the game of football and how much this country needs it.
It just so happens that the first Sunday of the 2011-2012 NFL regular season falls on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. The games and national broadcasts on that opening Sunday will not only unite all football fans, but all Americans as well, as we commemorate those who lost their lives that tragic September morning 10 years ago, and salute the American spirit. If the lockout had not been settled, not only would football fans be disappointed, but Americans alike would also not have a national stage on which they could honor America and further strengthen this great nation that we share.