“This the NFL which stands for Not For Long when you make those kind of calls!”
-former coach Jerry Glanville, to an NFL referee
Well, here we are. We’re a week away from the NFL Draft, and we still have no collective bargaining agreement. With each passing day without a CBA, the chances that the 2011 NFL season will happen are becoming exponentially slimmer and slimmer.
Of course, both the NFL owners and the NFL Players Association could agree on a new CBA within the next five minutes. Or maybe it’ll happen in August.
Or maybe, just maybe, it won’t happen at all.
I find myself partially mesmerized by the greed and distrust on display, but not fully so. ESPN’s Rick Reilly put up an eye-opening piece recently about what the NFL owners actually own (http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/news/story?id=6177574), and they’re the ones trying to claim a bigger piece of the revenue pie from the players.
You know, the same players that break their bones, tear their muscles, and face multiple surgeries by age 40, while being the faces of the league. After all, fans pay to see Michael Vick and Tom Brady, not Jeffrey Lurie and Robert Kraft.
[adinserter block=”2″]The NFL players have steadfastly refused to cave in to the owners’ decrees, and it’s fairly easy to side with them.
But then it comes out that the owners wish to add blood tests for human growth hormone to the NFL’s drug testing policy, and then I shift to the other end of the gamut of support. It took Derrick Mason, a veteran wide receiver, to come out and publicly rip into this suggestion, as if drug testing for HGH was the equivalent of setting an orphanage on fire three times a year.
HGH can be legal if prescribed by a doctor for rehabilitation reasons, but it’s a little more shady if a certain linebacker, who was skinny in high school, now weighs 275 lbs and flexes, his rippled biceps after every bone-rattling tackle.
It’s also shady if that same linebacker now has hair longer than a yard stick, and uses it to hide his Neanderthal-like sloping forehead.
So some players are hot and bothered about the idea of HGH testing, which was a pipe dream until a test was finally devised a few years ago. After a British footballer became the first man in the world to fail an HGH test, no false positive there, American sportsmen crapped the brick, as they realized their days might be numbered.
Mason’s public outcry might just be the tip of the iceberg.
So while the owners and players, all of whom will make more money than more money than we’ll ever see, are having their pissing matches over revenue and owners claiming poverty (despite their Madison Avenue-coated lives) and players not wanting more extensive drug testing, it makes one wish that these greedy, petulant jackanapes could open their eyes for five seconds and deal with reality.
Here’s reality for you.
The NFL schedule for 2011 came out this week, and it just so happens that the Sunday after Labor Day (when the majority of opening week regular season games take place) is September 11.
September 11, 2011: ten years to the day after Al Qaeda attacked America.
Americans will never forget those images. Men and women in other countries likely have a recollection of that horrific day. Three thousand people died for reasons that will never make any sense, while Americans mourned, became angry, searched for answers, and found temporary solace with each other, coming closer to family, friends, and peers emotionally than ever before.
In the years since 9/11, there have been foreign wars that have divided America, and have seen many American soldiers perish (including a classmate of mine, Harry Swain, who died in Afghanistan in 2005) . Politics in this country have become more of a joke than ever, as the two major parties slip further and further away from each other. Bush couldn’t do anything right, said the Democrats. Then Obama gets elected, and the Republicans refused to give him an inch, considering all the strife they had to put up with from the media and people at large.
While the empty suits in Congress and the White House have failed us in the last decade, we’ve also watched Hurricane Katrina erode away sand, creating a deeper gorge between social classes in terms of its handling. Bush’s Katrina was Obama’s BP oil spill, and both events produced endless bickering from Americans who seem content to argue, and not solve a damn thing.
The cable news shows aren’t news shows, but rah-rah speeches for your political sensibilities. Fox News massages the red state folks, while CNN finesses those on the left.
So much for 9/11 bringing us together.
But this year, 9/11 will provide an interesting scenario. At 4:15 PM EST on the anniversary, the Giants of New York will play the Redskins of Washington. The Giants are back dropped by the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, and the Redskins share a home with our Pentagon.
Speaking of New York, in addition to the Giants, you have the Jets, who will, hypothetically, play a home game at 8:30 that Sunday night against the Dallas Cowboys, one of the most recognizable teams in all of American sport. Nationally televised games in Washington and New York on the tenth anniversary will likely come with tributes and remembrances.
Know what I remember? I remember when 9/11 happened, and how weird it was that, in week 2 of the 2001 NFL season, that there were no games on Sunday. September 16, 2001 went by without a single game, and it was surreal. The games absolutely should have been canceled, and I understand that. However, in a bid to, as George W. Bush implored, ‘return to normalcy’, it was hard to be ‘normal’ on a September Sunday without football.
Just like the 2011 season will be if there’s no game at all.
[adinserter block=”1″]Then again, maybe a reminder that life is fragile, time is short, and nothing is guaranteed on the day of remembrance will make us realize that we don’t need drug-fueled athletes, scandal, greedy owners, and name-calling between fan bases to dictate our lives.
Americans will gather on 9/11/11 to remember. Whether or not football is played that day is up to the meat heads currently arguing over revenue sharing.
We don’t need football on a day where we honor our brave and fallen, but it would be nice to have.
Owners, union, do the right thing. Fix this mess.
Justin Henry is a freelance writer whose work appears on many websites. He provides wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture columns for CamelClutchBlog.com, as well as several wrestling columns a week for WrestlingNewsSource.com and WrestleCrap.com. Justin can be found here on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/notoriousjrh and Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/cynicjrh.