A football stoppage even a fan can love

by | Jul 26, 2011 | Detroit Free Press, Sports | 0 comments

Now that’s my kind of labor stoppage.

Honestly. It was darn near perfect. We didn’t miss a Super Bowl. We won’t miss one regular-season game. They even called a truce long enough to host the NFL draft – the only event of the off-season worth paying attention to anyhow. It was like a war that stops for a New Year’s Eve party.

“Football’s back,” Roger Goodell exclaimed Monday in telling the media the official news. But here’s some news for Roger. It never went away. Not for the fans. Most never noticed.

Think about it. All we missed compared with previous off-seasons was the following:

Minicamps. Can’t stand them anyhow. Never know who’s showing up.

Free-agent circuses. Great. A guy comes to your town, gets wined and dined, then signs somewhere else. Who needs it?

Rumors. Does any league spend more time dealing in the mythical realm of who might go to whom than football? To what end? Did you really miss that stuff?

The Hall of Fame Game. OK. With apologizes to the city of Canton, Ohio, eight snaps by Jay Cutler and the rest by some kid from Samoa is not exactly a can’t-miss event.

Looks like any other year to fans

“We didn’t get everything that either side wanted … but we did arrive at a deal that we think is fair and balanced,” DeMaurice Smith, the head of the players association, told the media Monday.

News flash for him: The fans don’t really care. They don’t understand. And they don’t need to.

Be honest. Outside of “money,” could you really say what the issues were in this labor dispute? Maybe a business major concerns himself with union decertification or revenue sharing. But the guy who likes to paint his face and jump out of his seat only sees a massive $9-billion pie the sides get to split and says, “Work it out, fellas.”

Since when did labor issues have to be sports page news anyhow? It’s only because we’ve created this monster that needs to be fed – football news on the hour, every hour – that we act as if a rookie salary cap will affect our ability to cheer for a touchdown.

The fact is, it’s late July, the players are showing up this week and, except for the stampede of signings and cuts that the first few days will bring (imagine an off-season’s worth of movements stuffed into calendar as tight as leather jeans), it pretty much looks like any other year.

What labor stoppage?

A little break not all bad

Personally, I so enjoyed this little dispute, I’d nominate it as an annual event. Yes, I know a gaggle of reporters would choke me for that statement, because what can be more futile, boring or downright mind-numbing than chasing lawyers into a hotel lobby then waiting for them to emerge, only to offer you nothing more than, “We’re still far apart”?

But the fact is, sports is overblown in America, and football is the most overblown of all. We could stand to dial it down in the off-season. I’d dare say people are actually more excited for this year’s regular season because we haven’t been inundated with minicamp reports, trade rumors, coaching hires and stupid money talk.

So even though Robert Kraft, the Patriots’ owner, wanted to apologize to fans for the long negotiations, I’ll go the other way. I’d like to say thanks. Thanks, owners. Thanks, players. Your shared greed allowed us to skip a few headlines, flip off the TV, and maybe mow the lawn or play with the kids a few more times.

And now, without further delay, we return you to your regularly scheduled football season.

If we can just get the players to stop tweeting.

Contact Mitch Albom: 313-223-4581 or malbom@freepress.com. Catch “The Mitch Albom Show” 5-7 p.m. weekdays on WJR-AM (760).


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Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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