It’s A Typical Football Off Season, Or Is It?

No matter who you talk to, no one really wants to discuss football.  Let’s face it, there is not much to talk about.  With owners and players at a stalemate and leaving it up to the courts, even they have nothing to talk about.  For the first time since 1987, we are all at a standstill.

For once, all football fans are on the same page, waiting.  Waiting to see when this lockout will not just end, but how soon.  The media does not have much to report on.  Many should be reporting on free agent signings, contract negotiations, off season workouts, and so much more.  But there is not even that to discuss.  Sports writers and reporters have to scrounge for ideas and stories like they are going dumpster diving, trying to find any scrap to talk about.

Greg Bishop of the New York Times wrote a great piece concerning the Jets and what they are doing, or not doing.
“Players are not allowed inside the building. The Jets cannot make trades or sign their numerous free agents. Employees on the team’s business side, everyone from secretaries to executive vice presidents, are staring at the possibility of forced work furloughs. And those involved in the organization’s football operations — coaches among them — are working under a 25 percent pay cut.

Like all N.F.L. teams, the Jets are on a novel campaign to carry on as an organization. Some looming decisions, like how to refund tickets if games are canceled this fall, have nothing to do with football on the field. Others relate to more basic and familiar football questions — whom to draft, for instance, late next month. The Jets will not be able to sign their selections, but they still have to make them.

The greatest sense of paralysis probably is being felt by Tannenbaum and his staff. The Jets have 15 expiring contracts, including those of key players like Cromartie and wide receivers Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards.”

This is a key time for the Jets.  For the second consecutive year, they made it to the AFC Championship and lost.  They have the tools to go to the Super Bowl.  By not being able to negotiate with free agents, talk to players and agents, there will be little time to make up once the lockout ends.  Depending how close it is to opening day.  The Jets will have to run their own hurry up offense just to make sure the pieces are there to make a run in 2011.

Mike Tannenbaum might also have to make changes on handling the draft.  In previous seasons, he has selected high quality players, regardless of their position.  Vernon Gholston was a choice of Eric Mangini, not Tannenbaum.  In this season of the lockout, with needs on the defensive line, at safety, and with three key receivers potentially free agents, he could draft to key positions.  They need a big time pass rusher.  But when it comes to the Jets, they usually surprise many on their choices.

The players, for their part, face their own challenges and quandaries . During the lockout, players are on their own for their workouts.  Cornerback Darrelle Revis put the offer out to host all defensive backs at his home in Arizona to help with training and development. Some may take him up on it while others may not want to spend to make the trip. Many are working out at local colleges and high schools.  Five members of the Jets’ secondary are free agents, and if any are injured, their careers could be hindered without the backing of a team to help with their rehabilitation.

Let me show you where players are not currently training

For first year players, Kyle Wilson, Vladimir Ducasse, John Conner and Joe McKnight of last years draft class, they will suffer more. They will not receive any instruction from their coaches.  They will be missing out on key guidance.   First year rookies all over will not have the tutelage other players have had in the past.  They need to rely on veteran players right now.

Of course, many of these issues could become a memory, as the players have sought, a federal judge in Minnesota grants an injunction barring the owners from continuing to implement the lockout.

Still, fans remain positive on there being a 2011 season.  In a call with Fireman Ed, he knows they have months to go to settle things.  But if the judge makes the decision favoring the owners, then there is a chance this could go on for a while.  Ed knows the Jets have the right tools to build on this past season.  But when coaches and players can not talk, there is not much to build on.  Ed feels some of the smaller market team owners have a bigger say in this and are trying to get more out of it.  For a fan as passionate as Fireman Ed, even he has nothing to talk about regarding football.

Every player across the league is experiencing the same woes as the Jets players.  Many would love the chance to workout at their teams facilities, but have to make makeshift plans to schedule the same type of workouts.

Every team owner, coach, and General manager has to make plans about the upcoming season and put them away in a file.  Only to come back to them later on the chance there is a season to come back to.  Then they have to use their 2 minute drill to get those carefully laid plans into place.  Time is on their side, for now.

So we all wait collectively.  Like a $300 million dollar lottery hoping our numbers are the ones to be called.  Sitting on the edge of our seats for that big announcement of a 2011 season.  But no one will be happier than the team employees who were forced into pay cuts and furloughs.  The players will come next, followed by the team management.  But in the end, the fans will breathe a sigh of relief once they know there is an opening day kickoff.

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