The last NFL work stoppage was in 1987. I was born in July of '87, so naturally I have no memories of it. The last MLB work stoppage was in 1994. I was barely cognizant of sports at the time, but hindsight and research tells me that it nearly killed the sport The last NBA work stoppage was in 1998, but by that time my sports interests were already shifting away from basketball. The last NHL work stoppage was in 2004, but it's the NHL.
To date, I have yet to be personally affected by a strike or lockout in a sport I care dearly about. That record is about to change if the owners and NFLPA don't settle their differences. Today, they agreed to a seven-day extension of the current CBA. That's nice. It would be even more nice if they could come to an agreement before having to extend the deadline, but it's progress. There's too much money at stake, too many sponsorships hanging on edge. The NFL's popularity is at unprecedented levels. The Packers/Steelers game is now the most-watched TV show of all time, beating out the venerated finale to M*A*S*H. They'd be foolish to let this gravy train come to a halt, and given the seven-day extension, they are very reluctant to do so.
The players have lots of legitimate points to negotiate. Former players have debilitating health concerns; years of relentless hits and lax therapy ("walk it off, pussy") have left 40-year-olds with the bodies and minds of 70-year-olds. That there is no health care and/or pension plan for these men is despicable. The owners want to extend the schedule to 18 games, while still paying lip service to protecting players and penalizing big hits. You could cut the hypocrisy with a knife. The league brings in at least $9 billion dollars in revenue, yet some owners are crying poverty and demanding the players take less, while refusing guaranteed contracts for our modern-day gladiators.
It's enough to make me want to boycott the NFL entirely, but I can't. I'm a slave of the system. I care too much, and I love the sport too much to just let it go. I've never been alive long enough to see a work stoppage in a sport I care so much about, and the very prospect of it happening in the NFL scares me too much. No football. No mindless Sundays boozing and bitching about the bad broadcasting. No following college players as potential prospects. No rooting for the upset win. No wailing about the inevitable Monday Night Football snooze-fest. No looking forward to next week. No frantically adjusting your fantasy football lineup on Saturday night.
If the situation continues as it is, all that will be gone. All over a few billion dollars, two extra games, and some fucking bones thrown to the former greats who gave their lives to this game.
I need a drink.