This isn't like baseball's labor issues in 1994 that sacrificed a World Series -- and a good Reds team that was 18 games above .500 -- causing fans to disappear, angrily referencing this season as the reason they stopped caring about the sport once nicknamed "America's Pastime". Ironically most of those fans reappeared during a steroid infestation of two men battling for the crown of home run champion. Nothing like that.
The National Football League will soon conclude a lockout that nearly lasted 140 frustrating days. And the third party in all of this is the final equation to make this lockout a distant memory. During a unified press conference between the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith, Goodell was apologetic with NFL fans, committing to win us over.
“We know what we did to frustrate our fans over the last several months,” Goodell said. “They want football and our job is to give them football. We think that through a 10-year agreement we’ve secured the future of the game to ensure that pledge to bring great football to our fans. I think we have some work to do, though, to make sure they understand that we are sorry for the frustration we put them through over the last six months. Our commitment is to bring them better football going forward.”
"First of all, on behalf of both sides, I want to apologize to fans that for the last 5-6 months we've been talking about the business of football and not what goes on on the field and building the teams in each market. The end result is that we have an agreement that is going to allow this sport to flourish over the next decade and we've done that in a way that's unique among the major sports in that every team, all 32, will be competitive. We've improved player safety and we've remembered the players who played in the past.
I'm going to say this with the utmost confidence. There's no reason to win us back. We never left. We never felt alienated. We've understood from the beginning that this was a business issue between two business partners. And if the NFL wasn't going to impact my life during a period of time that my life wouldn't be impacted anyway, then what do I care if two business partners need to hash out issues that will promote labor peace for the next ten years?
Think about it. We didn't actually miss anything. Free agency will be made up soon, the NFL Draft went ahead as planned. Who really cares about Organized Training Activities and if not for the media not constantly informing us at all hours of the day (god bless them), would the NFL lockout have been that noticeable? Additionally, how many times did the media throw a positive report in the fire just to have it cooled with chilling pessimism during the same news cycle? Hell, the media's anxiousness to report borderline more on annoyance than the actual lockout.
No. Fans won't miss regular season games. We'll still pack Georgetown for Training Camp, buy our preseason tickets and then pack Paul Brown Stadium during the regular season. Alright. Maybe not. But that's actually for another reason, a deep rooted tradition going on 20 years now; nothing to do with the NFL.