By Thalia Bardell, howiGit Contributing Writer, Boston, MA
Thursday is fast approaching and at the rate the two sides are moving it looks like an NFL lockout is impending. The likelihood that a deal will get done in the next two days is about as likely as Kendrick Perkins returning to the Celtics (too soon for the Perk jokes?). As a Pittsburgh Steelers fan an extended off-season makes me a little nervous. Extra time for Ben Roethlisberger to act like a total goon? I need that like a hole in my head. However, I have to admit that it has been fascinating watching this drama unfold. The last time that the NFL had a work stoppage was 1987 and I was … not even born yet.
When baseball players went on strike during the 1994 season I was seven years old, not yet a Sox fan, and more concerned with getting the training wheels off of my bike. I feel, oddly, like I’m witnessing a piece of history right now. If the owners and players union can’t come to an agreement then I will be in the midst of events that have the opportunity to change the NFL as I know it. To get a tiny glimpse into the inner workings of a sport that I only see from the glamorous outside of televised games, TV endorsements, and Sports Illustrated covers reminds me that sports are a business like everything else. Sure, guys like Ochocinco, Peyton Manning, and Darrelle Revis make the big money – and honestly I don’t really care how they fare in this decision, but it’s the second stringers, the no names, no covers, and no Campbell’s Chunky Soup commercial, “little” guys that interest me the most. These men are simply out there trying to make a buck doing something they love, just as we are, and they don’thave the same amount of time as most of us to do it in. The average length of an NFL player’s career is about three and a half years (perhaps Brett Favre was not included in that calculation) — that’s approximately 56 games. For these guys, to lose even one paycheck is a pay cut they can’t afford.
For the sake of the back-up benchwarmers I hope that the NFL resumes play on schedule next year. But for my self-interest I almost hope that they don’t. I can’t imagine what September will feel like without football (although it would open up more time to watch the Red Sox), but to witness an exercise of worker rights that I actually care about would be interesting to say the least. I’m curious to see the reaction of the players, the fans, and the media if the lockout extends through the summer and threatens the fall. Maybe it’s my age, but I’m history star-struck and, for me, the lack of football might be more exciting than the football itself.