It is April, the month of renewal for all teams ‘NFL.’ The draft is the second most exciting time of year for football fans next to the season itself. So why is the tone this time of year so much more subdued? Could it be the fact that there is a labor action and that there might not be a 2011 season? You bet your sweet a** it is.
These are dark times for fans. How do you get energized about the draft and about the new season when there might not be a season?!!! This is why hits are down all over the football-internet. Writing for this blog usually comes out of the pores, yet these past few months it has become more chore and less football. Blogging has been replaced by slogging.
Regular readers know that in 1994 when Major League Baseball lost the World Series, this writer boycotted the sport. While I still stay up on baseball from the print media and from osmosis (WFAN), I rarely watch the game anymore and have not spent a single dollar on MLB in 17 years. The loss of the World Series was to me the breaking point. It was the renunciation of a contract between fan and sport. I do not care whose fault it was. 1994 was a sign of greater problems to come. The owners diluted the quality of the game. Guys like Giammati and Vincent were replaced by that joke known as Selig. The result was a steroid scandal that has marginalized an entire generation of league play.
Was it such a radical idea or notion that I would forgo a sport that had broken its compact with the fan? I did not think so back in 1994, and I certainly don’t think so now. Looking back at the subsequent years of World Series games that ended at 1AM, I shed more than a tear for kids who could not stay up to root for their team. Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmiero, Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens should all be heroes, yet they are all stained by their ruinous decision to use performance-enhancing drugs. Anyone that tells you that 1994 and steroids are not connected does not understand how the business of sports must be kept in check or else the fan is rendered meaningless in that equation.
So here we are in 2011, and the NFL faces the same threat now that baseball faced 17 years ago. Friends and family have recently asked me the same question over and over- what will you do if the season is compromised by a lockout? I have given it great thought and have to remain consistent. If the NFL loses the Super Bowl, I will stop supporting the game. That means I will stop watching the game, and by that result I will stop blogging too. I think that is a 10% chance. I believe they will settle the lockout and come to an agreement, perhaps losing a few games. But if the league and its players abrogate the implicit contract they have with their fans and forfeit the season, I will walk. It certainly is not an outcome I look forward to. I like football much more than baseball (pre 1994, post 1994) or any sport. But I have enough self-respect to demand the same loyalty from the NFL that I give to them.
We ‘slog’ away in the early months of 2011, not knowing what fate lies ahead for the season. Innocent until proven guilty. I believe the labor strife will end with an agreement. We push through and keep blogging. But if it does not, there has to be a point where I say no more. Everyone out there, Giants fans, NFL fans, everyone has a personal decision to make. At what point do the owners and the players cross the line and tell you that you no longer matter? For some of you, it was the PSLs. For me it is a season.
We love the draft because it is renewal, a new day, a new player, a new team. We care about football because it gives us excitement and so many fond memories. When football stops caring about us, in my opinion, that is when it is time to call it a day.