Be real quiet for a second. You hear that?
Yep, that’s every red-blooded American male (and those wonderful ladies who love the sport too) breathing a sigh of relief. The NFL lockout is officially over according to sources and a season that was once threatened to be axed will now be starting sooner than later. The official vote is scheduled for tomorrow, but DeMaurice Smith expects it to be nothing more than a formality. While the Hall Of Fame game is cancelled, signs point to all systems go with the normal preseason and regular season ahead in the near future. What will be interesting, however, is to see how the players return to business from this. Will injuries be more frequent? How will the quality of the game look during the infant weeks of the league’s return?
And even before pads are placed on, are fans truly ready for the gold rush that is the Free Agent Frenzy of 2011 expected to kick off this Saturday at 2 p.m.? Every team needs to fill roster spots so expect each franchise to sign a laundry basket full of players including all levels of free agents from superstars to practice squad space fillers. What we’re about to witness is the NFL version of those crazy parents running into Toys R’ Us on Black Friday with shopping karts and coffee-induced adrenaline rushes.
Pat yourself on the back for not jumping off a bridge. Get those fantasy football leagues started. And be happy we don’t have to deal with this again until the year 2021.
Update: According to NFL.com, The NFL Players Association and the league have reached an agreement on a new labor deal, finalized in the early morning hours of Monday. “The league’s 32 player representatives and then all of its players still must vote to approve it, but at this point it appears a formality,” the NFL.com report said and the league could be open for business on Tuesday. The only thing remaining at this point is for the players to review the deal and then vote, which all appears to be a formality at this juncture.
Update #2: And now the player reps for all 32 teams have unanimously approved the deal. As for today, teams can go to 90-man roster and free agent list distributed to teams. On Tuesday, players can report to the facilities and teams can sign draft picks and undrafted players – and negotiate with free agents.
In short, let there be football!