If you haven’t heard, the NFL lockout is over! Yay! As league commissioner Roger Goodell said in the news conference proclaiming the deal between owners and players, “Football is back.” However, there are a whole bunch of issues that have to be dealt with in a minimal time frame. The league won’t push back dates, and effectively only eliminated one game (the Hall of Fame Game), but there are still lingering questions that need to be answered before we get a sense if this lockout changed anything—both in real life and, um, a fantastical one.
- Training camp needs to start. Over the next week, the teams will slowly start, on a staggered schedule, to return to the friendly confines of their training facilities. According to reports, the first 10 will go back on Wednesday (Seattle, San Diego, Arizona, Oakland, Denver, Dallas, Jacksonville, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New England); the next 10 on Thursday (Tampa Bay, Kansas City, Miami, Atlanta, San Francisco, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Washington, Cincinnati, Detroit); Friday would see 10 more (Chicago, Green Bay, Cleveland, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Minnesota, Tennessee, NY Giants, Carolina); and Sunday would find the last two teams – New York Jets and Houston Texans – starting their practice rounds. Once there, will players’ play become sloppier thanks to new rules won in the battle (fewer rough practices) and the short conditioning time, or will it all balance out and play out like every other year?
- The free agency period—where anything can happen. The only thing this can resemble is that old game show, Supermarket Sweep. In a short period of time, teams have to fill their needs with a new set of rules and without a clear gauge of who is also going after their targets. Will it mean a lot of short-term overvalued contracts? Or teams shying away from players for the same reason? We will soon see.
- Will the college game change with a new rookie pay scale? Saint Louis quarterback Sam Bradford may be the luckiest man in football. That’s because beginning this year, the rookie salaries (and the following four years) will be about half of what number one pick Bradford and his ilk got with the first few picks last year. Will that make fewer college football players come out before their senior years for one extra year of seasoning, especially with talk of finally paying them everywhere?
- Our Fantasy Football rosters. OK, this doesn’t have to do directly with the players themselves. However, in the same way teams have to fill out their teams under uncertain terms, the obsessed denizens of the billion-dollar industry known as Fantasy Football have to wait for all the dust to settle before drafting their teams. It’s like cramming for the SAT, LSAT, and MCAT all rolled into one! (ok, not really, but for the first three rounds of any draft, you will feel the same nervous energy around your table).
Well, these questions are here, but they are a lot better than the one that they replaced: When is football coming back? This makes us happy enough to dance.