MIAMI GARDENS, FL - MARCH 03: A view of Sun Life Stadium behind a locked gate as the NFL lockout looms on March 3, 2011 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Just in case you didn't know, or if you did know but didn't want to acknowledge it, Thursday was an important day in the NFL's history. On Thursday, the NFL had been in a work stoppage, in the form of a lockout, for 58 days. That is the longest the NFL has ever been out of commission.
The record that was broken belonged to the 1982 NFL season, in which the players staged a strike from Sept. 20 through Nov. 16 -- 57 days.
The regular season was shortened to 9 games that year (the Bengals finished with a 7-2 record). One would think, that the NFL, the owners and the players, would have learned a lesson after missing almost half of the 1982 regular season, but it's been made clear, by both sides, that nobody has learned their lesson.
Maybe it's the fact that all of the 1982 players are out of the league now and the newer younger guys never heard the saying that if you don't learn your history, you're doomed to repeat it. Maybe it's just a different era for the owners with more money being guaranteed to first-round draft picks and, with the ailing economy, they just can't go forward without forcing the players to change. I don't think it's either, though.
Really, I think both the players and the owners have completely lost sight of what's important, and what's important is us.
The NFL could have never survived this long without loyal fans willing to pay for its survival. While NFL players and owners argue over how they should split $9 billion, the fans that have given them the money to fight over are struggling in the current economy to pay for their homes, their cars and the other necessities that the players and owners take for granted, and those are the lucky fans. Many have been far less fortunate.
When the owners and players take the field for the first time in 2011, whenever that may be, they should know that they, along with the owners, owe every American football fan a sincere apology. They should apologize for refusing to cooperate, going to court and threatening to close down the country's most popular sport while the men and women who bankroll the entire league suffer.
I deserve it and so do you, along with anybody else who has gotten sick of the selfishness and greed necessary to do what they've done. Will we get it, though?
I'll never stop watching football, I love it too much, and I have a feeling that most football fans feel the same way. However, I really hope that the owners and players learn some lesson from this and come to the realization that, without fans, they're nothing and that they remember it doesn't matter who catches the most touchdown passes or who has the best QB rating or the most sacks or who wins the Super Bowl if nobody is there to watch.
I'm sure they won't learn a thing, though.