Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Was It Love That Opened The Door?

In the immortal words of Alexander M. Schreiber, "Not bloody likely!" After 130+ days of being "locked out" and without having had to sacrifice anything other than the Hall of Fame Exhibition Game, the billionaires who own NFL franchises and the millionaires who populate their rosters have kissed and made up. I know because Messrs. Goodell and Smith sent me a personalized e-mail to tell me the news. Man do I rate. Labor peace is made again - allegedly for the next decade. We shall see.

At the risk of being drummed out of the corps at double-time I am compelled to confess that I cared not about the absence of late spring/early summer professional football. No one pays much attention to pro football in the spring. Do not take my word for it - ask Donald Trump. He led the USFL out of existence by daring to challenge the NFL head on. The USFL's owners, following Trump's bravado, voted to play fall football starting in 1986. They learned that voting to play in the fall was significantly harder than playing in the fall. Having accomplished the former, they never got around to actually doing the latter. The USFL folded in 1986 without ever playing an autumnal game.

As far as I can discern from what I read and what I listened to yesterday regarding the resolution of the NFL lockout, the owners and the current players did something that they have been historically reticent to do: they agreed to share some of the NFL's absurd economic largesse with its former players, whose performance back in the day before it was a $9 Billion a year business every year helped make it into the behemoth it presently is. There are far too many stories that pop up time and again in the sports pages about former NFL players who die in their 50's and 60's, financially destitute and in failing health for those who count the money to ignore any longer. Not that they have not for far too long. And not that they might not have continued to do so but for the voices of all-time greats such as Dick Butkus, Mike Ditka and Carl Eller.

In answer to the musical question posed by HW,JR every Monday night for however many years he has yelled that insufferable theme song, the answer is, "Yes." Now, from all of us who watch the games to all of you who created a crisis in part so you could have a photo opportunity at which to pat each other on the back, we say, "Shut up and play." Welcome back. It is about time.

Now the real test will be whether the fans who pay to attend NFL games, who spend their money to buy official merchandise, etc. come back and welcome the NFL with open arms and - more important to the parties involved - open wallets. For at day's end, love is spelled M-O-N-E-Y.

Same as it ever was.


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