At last the long doldrums between April's draft-day and day one of training camp is over. The NFL season is upon us as training camps spring up across this football nation.
With the beginning of a new season, I am pondering which offseason story has the greatest impact on the game
Sure, the reinstatement of this now reformed dog-killer certainly sends a message to the league. If Roger Goodell finds forgiveness for Vick's erroneous ways, who's next? The gun-tottin' Plaxico "six-shooter" Burgess or Dante "I'm finally apologizing for killing another man" Stallworth? .
Goodell has set precedence with this action. Does it put a bite (err, no pun intended) on the league?
NFL players have plenty of examples of what happens to those who make wrong choices so, no matter what Roger Goodell enforces as the rules; to obey or break the law remains an act of free-will on behalf of the players. This is the darker side of the NFL that no matter who tries to set and enforce rules will never go away.
Speaking of actions, the recent civil-lawsuit for Ben Roethlisberger was swept under the rug by both the Steelers' organization and the sports media. Could this be the best offseason story?
Although this may distract the Steelers, overall it becomes a nice excuse for the Super Bowl Champs going 8-8 and missing the playoffs.
One offseason story that was so complex that nobody paid attention to was the failure of owners and NFLPA to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement by March. If indeed the NFL salary cap goes away in 2010, this could have an asteroid size impact on the league's surface.
Could this be the story of the offseason?
Despite the implications of an uncapped year, this story has not created any resonance or concern on the part of the NFL owners, players or fans. Sure, some of the details of the uncapped year have surfaced including the fact that 85 percent of NFL players would not benefit from an uncapped year and owners are in a position to lock-out players in 2011, but overall, everyone's apathetic.
With the regular season a month away, this could be one of the biggest regular season stories. Presently, it is an accepted conclusion to a potential ugly smear on the NFL’s reputation.
The ugliest smear on everyone’s HD screen will be the arrogant mug of Mel Kiper Jr. dolling out his opinion on who’s the best college prospects in next year’s draft on prime-time television.
In perhaps the biggest offseason stories, the NFL announced that the draft is moving to a prime-time format with additional dates dedicated to the event.
This is huge, NFL fans.
There is a direct correlation between an increase of media NFL draft hype and inflating rookie salaries. The ultimate effect of this prime-time move is an increased hype over college prospects that will create more first and later-round; mega-million dollar Frankenstein's clubs will have to sign.
“Ridiculous,” commented Roger Goodell on the rookie salary cap. “There is something wrong with the system.”
With the oncoming prime-time switch and an uncapped year, the system will go from being, in Mr. Goodell’s assessment, wrong to being terminally ill unless a rookie salary cap is implemented.
Cynicism aside, if the NFL and NFLPA cannot come to terms on a collective bargaining agreement, will they ever be able to create a rookie salary cap?
Then, there is the elevation of credential deficient media personalities hired by networks to offer commentary on college prospects and hearing the likes of Chris Carter disrespect players based on his idiotic opinion.
I shudder at the thought of Mel Kiper Jr. resuscitating his career because ESPN needs an "expert" for prime time.
This is not your grand-pa Eddie’s league; the NFL is year-round. For the NFL fan, one can tune into a media network on any month and receive a daily fix of football news.
The NFL is a great sports league. The fans do not need more hype; they simply want football. Remembering this important fact will keep the NFL from tinkering with something that is running relatively smooth.
So, on to the NFL season and on to more harmless offseason stories, like Brett Favre seasonal retirement and reinstatement.