By Scott Engel, Managing Director
I am almost growing tired of the near-daily state of the NFL labour situation. In fact, it’s almost workmanlike to read the minutia of the details as the two sides try to map things out. I decided some time ago that the real news isn’t the lockout. The true rush of news will come when the lockout actually ends.
I have never worried about there not being a season. I never thought it was in jeopardy. There is way too much at stake. People who have been close to the situation have told me that no matter how long the lockout drags on, there will still be a season. So I am proceeding as usual in many ways, but I will have to alter my preseason approaches a bit.
It certainly was startling to venture to the local newsstand this week and find just three Fantasy Football magazines available. That’s because when the lockout does end, any pre-work stoppage publication is going to become quickly outdated. As will some mock drafts. Yet, we still have to do the drills, because even though the season appears to be on hold, I anticipate it will surely start on time. The latest reports have the two sides possibly ready to ratify a new agreement by July 21. That would be no surprise.
Sure, there is going to be a frenzied rush when free agency opens, and rookies may take a while to get up to speed. Draft strategies may be more challenging this year, and there could even be more risk for injuries this season, if training camps are slashed at all. But there already rumours that Brett Favre is considering a return, so things appear to be starting to fall into place.
Actually, Fantasy life has been a bit more relaxing without so much NFL news. Many of us have been able to focus more time on Fantasy Baseball, while the studying we have been doing for the new Fantasy Football season has been less demanding. We can also search deeper into last season’s results and spend more time compiling, revising and reviewing our cheat sheets and rankings.
I’d be lying if I said I did not miss the state of knowing so much more by now, but the silence is a nice diversion, too. It’s only going to make the avalanche of player moves that much more exciting when it does start. It’s almost like I have taken a long vacation from my wife. It is refreshing to watch sports and play video games without interruption, and eat as many ice pops as I want in this weather. No one is asking me when I will be home or to pick up anything at the store. But hell, when it all does start again, nothing else matches the relationship. Absence will just make the excitement so much greater when we get back together.
The NFL is like a significant other who left us for a vacation or a needed separation. Sure, there is some unrest, but if you love something, and you are pretty certain about its qualities, you can be confident and assured that it will return. The NFL has left us, but I know it will return because our relationship is too important, and now it’s nearing the time to get back together, when it counts most. My wife would never be away when I needed her the most. The NFL is not going to go away when it has so many lovers counting on it come the fall. Only the NFL can get away with no monogamy, yet so much commitment. Everyone wants to be with the NFL, and everyone wants to share it. So it has much greater responsibilities than the average significant other.
There are too many people depending on the NFL for there to ever be a realistic chance of it going silent. I walk into Major League Baseball locker rooms and talk Fantasy Football with baseball players, who have shown us how big the hobby has become. There are clubhouse leagues in every MLB city. Michael Young is among those who consider themselves “Fantasy fanatics.” These guys have been just as concerned as any of us that the season may be threatened.
One New York-area pitcher used to ask me for Fantasy Football advice in the clubhouse last year, covering his mouth with his glove just like he was talking to his catcher, so his teammates would not see what he was discussing. Last month, I saw him in the clubhouse and he simply shook his head and walked away disgusted as he muttered about his Fantasy Football season supposedly being on shaky ground.
I attempted to reassure him. Other players who had friends in the NFL were telling me that his buddies were ultimately very confident there would still be a season. Other insider sources told me directly that while they expected the lockout to drag out, too much was to be lost for the season to be harmed. That is the way things appear to be headed. Both sides got away with preening and positioning for as long as possible. Now that the truly important dates are closer, a deal simply must get done.
So, as a Fantasy professional, I simply sit and wait for the flag to drop, for the rain delay to stop, or the storm to pass. Once the gate opens, there may be a greater gust of wind than ever before, but once it passes, it will be the same as always. We’ll draft, we’ll trade and we’ll win and lose. Nothing, in the end, is going to change based on a few months of unrest. Don’t change your plans, keep studying for 2011.
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