August 08, 2011
As soon as a pigskin is kicked on Thursday night, I hope I'll never think about the lockout again. If you love the NFL enough that it maintains your interest year round -- and if you're here, I'm guessing most of you are in that group with me -- it was a brutal, brutal time.
But it did inadvertently yield something enjoyable. The ultra-abbreviated amount of time between the beginning of free agency and the beginning of training camp made for a buck wild flurry of free agency and trade activity. It was fun.
The day free agency opened had a holiday-type feel to it. It was sort of like being a fan of a contender of an NHL or MLB team on trade deadline day, and waking up to see what shiny new toys your team would get that day. The NFL has never really offered that.
Free Agent Frenzy was a great diversion, the way sports are supposed to be. I'm sure it aged some general managers. Eventually, it may cost a few of the Frenzy's losers their jobs.
But for the people who buy the season tickets, who purchase the television packages, the fantasy-league players, the Sunday afternoon soft-drink-and-beer-swillers, the Frenzy was a welcome relief from the worry and boredom of the lockout.
It felt like a national holiday.
So why not find a way to make this small free-agent window a permanent part of the NFL schedule? Make it the kind of celebration of the game that it became this year.
I'm pretty certain that it won't happen, simply because there's no real reason for it to happen. The normal, leisurely pace is easier on teams, easier on the league office, and spreads the news out so the NFL Network and ESPN have things with which to fill airtime. Even if there was some outcry from fans to make it a new annual procedure, the league has pretty clearly demonstrated that it doesn't much care about what fans want or don't want.
And there are downsides, too. If all free-agency news gets crammed into a short period, it does leave a longer barren period. The sheer volume of signings made things difficult to keep up with. I'm sure once the season starts, I'll have a couple of "Whoa, that guy plays for that team?" moments. And it damn near killed Redskins VP of football administration Eric Schaffer.
But, given your druthers, which way would you like the NFL to do it? The standard, leisurely pace? Or this year's crammed-tightly, everything-at-once approach?
Let us know in the comments, and vote on our Facebook page.
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