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The NFL is presently facing one of its worst labor disputes in league history. Countless meetings have been had between the Players Association and the owners in attempts to negotiate the terms of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The new agreement would in effect end the current lockout of the leagues players, a time fans have been dreaming about for over three months now. Though rumor has it that talks are “heating up,” as of late, a term the media has used all too often to describe the tiniest bit of progress, fans must begin to think about what their lives would be like should the NFL have a shortened season, or worse…no season at all.
Option A: The Shane Falco Effect
For those of you who do not understand the reference, immediately stop reading, google Shane Falco, and watch the corresponding movie. Seriously, stop.
Still here? Great.
Roger Goodell has stated that the league has no plans of using replacement players whatsoever as a bridge between the lockout and the supposed regular season. There really is no reason not to believe him, except for the the fact that he has also stated that he fully expects there to be a full NFL season and seems cool as a cucumber in every one of his interviews. Clearly he is hiding something.
A commissioner, with the media the way it is today, could never realistically reveal to the leagues loyal fans that he is contemplating replacing its all-world athletes with some broken down ex-college players who could never quite make it in the league. Granted, for those guys who just missed getting drafted, or wouldn’t be looked at ever again because of some horrific career ending injury, this could be a second chance and a dream come true.
In fact, in 1987 the league used replacements went the players went on strike early in the year. Sure, most stadiums were empty compared to what they normally had been. Fans didn’t know the names and numbers of every player, stat-lovers (the fantasy players of today) were finding day-jobs, and the players barely knew the routes they were running. The funny thing about all of that was, many fans still tuned in.
Eventually the players crossed and all went back to normal, but it was sure an interesting time that taught us something. Some football on Sundays is better than none, and the fans stayed loyal to their teams. Ratings took a hit, but they were still there, and I would have to assume that it would be the same way today. In fact, I’m sure some of these replacements would become internet celebrities after their time in the sun was over. Maybe some of them would even parlay their time into a real contract. Who knows?
If it came down to replacements, at least there would still be something. Besides all the journalists out there would have a field day.
Option B: The UFL
Okay, so most of you don’t know that Andre Dixon (Connecticut) is a running back for the Hartford Colonials in a professional football league, big deal! As we just said, football is football right?
Well, sort of. Realistically if Goodell keeps to his word that replacement players won’t be used, the UFL might be the next best thing. The newly founded league would finally get the break it has been praying for since the beginning.
There are certainly some big names there. Many former prominent NFL players and coaches that have fell off of NFL teams but still wanted to play competitively are currently filling the UFL’s rosters. Who doesn’t want to watch Daunte Culpepper throw the old pigskin around one more time?
At the very least, there surely would be a lot of “I remember that guy” moments to be had.
It might not be quite the talent level that the NFL has, but what is? It’s the same game, it has big venues, and its professional (nothing against college football, but it should be treated as a completely different entity and left out of this discussion altogether).
Surely a big-time television network would snatch up these rights and pray that fans are more desperate for football than we may have thought. Maybe the UFL really is entertaining if we would just give it a try, maybe.
For now their best bet is to send a spy into these NFL player/owner meetings to try to be an instigator. It’s really the only shot they have.
Option C: Watch old game tapes in your basement and cry because this really could have been your teams year.
Sadly, the most realistic of the options. A year without football is like cookie dough ice cream with no chocolate chips: we don’t exactly know why it has to be there, but life would just be too weird without it.
Traditional Sundays would be destroyed. These new days would be full of productivity and/or bad movies on television that we’ve already seen. That’s just not what Sundays were made for.
The bottom line is. A deal absolutely needs to get done, and a shortened season would be better than no season at all. If there is no NFL in 2011 everyone is in trouble, because I don’t know about everybody else, but I left Daunte Culpepper in 2004, right next to my Linkin Park CDs.