The Super Bowl is over and the confetti has finally been swept out from JerryWorld. So that means it's time to start looking ahead to next season.
If there is a season, that is.
NFL fans, media and officials alike are moving forward with a caution and fear that hasn't been duplicated since the hockey world collectively had that same feeling in the summer of 2004. We remember how that all ended.
Regardless of what the labor situation evolves into down the road, it's starting to look like a very interesting offseason ahead with numerous big names possibly on the move, a lot of possible trades and some very high-profile free agents on the market.
So with that in mind, here are 50 burning questions that need to be answered in the 2011 NFL offseason.
Christina Aguilera's flubbing of the national anthem seemed to sum up the whole Super Bowl debacle in Dallas (at least until the halftime show and Seat-gate).
And while Christina Aguilera was able to at least work through the song, it still wasn't a good showing.
So if there's a Super Bowl next season, who sings the anthem?
It's NBC's turn to broadcast the game, so we can rule out any cross-promotional stars to sing the anthem, which is a Fox specialty (unless the Hoff from "America's Got Talent" wants to show why Germany loves him so much).
Mostly, the NFL likes to go with the pop star/diva for the national anthem, so I can see them going with a Katy Perry or Rihanna, although I don't know how well that would work out.
Of course, they can always just get Madonna, too.
I said it last week: The NFL should at least get some credit for taking a chance for the first time since the wardrobe malfunction fiasco and getting a modern act (Black Eyed Peas) to play the halftime show.
That being said, that wasn't a show in Dallas Sunday night—that was chaos with flashing shoulder pads.
About the only people who liked that show were the ones paid to jump near the stage and anyone who took skirt/dress at even on the "what will Fergie be wearing during the halftime show?" prop.
It's hard for anything to live up to some of the previous acts, including Michael Jackson and U2's emotionally-charged performance in the first Super Bowl after 9/11. But I can promise you it will be watchable again.
Because really, after that, can it get any worse?
It has to be somewhat scary to NFL fans across the world that the fate of the 2011 season and beyond rests in the hands of two men who haven't been a part of labor negotiations before.
Yet here we are, with commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith getting ready to square off in what will definitely be a very nasty—and very public—labor dispute to try and get a deal done.
Both sides have already started to draw their respective lines in the sand, with the owners having the uncapped year this year and the talks of the Players Union de-certifying.
Eventually, both these men know a deal has to get done, and they're both expecting to dig in. But don't be surprised if it takes a little time to get it done.
For all the hype, all the baggage and whatever the "T.Ocho Show" is, T.O. had a very productive year for the Bengals last year.
Of course, when you spent the previous season in Buffalo, any team other than the Bills and any quarterback other than Trent Edwards represents a major upgrade.
Still, he was one of the Bengals' lone bright spots.
But with Cincinnati looking to rebuild, Owens will probably find himself looking for work after one of the better seasons he's had in a while.
Never fear, though—someone will sign him. A team desperate for a wide receiver will take him on (paging Mr. Snyder).
Let's face it, Palmer has never been the same since he was hit in the 2005 AFC Wild Card Game.
Before that, he was a dynamic gunslinger who led one of the best offenses in the league. Since then, he's been an injury-prone quarterback who's been the face of an inconsistent Bengals squad.
Now Palmer is finally fed up and wants a trade out of Cincy. The Bengals are probably leery to give in to Palmer, considering neither quarterback behind him on the depth chart has the label "franchise quarterback" next to his name.
Plus, there's not really an outstanding quarterback in this draft class.
But Palmer is also the one guy who's kept it together despite all the zaniness around him, and that makes it really bad that he wants out.
The best scenario for both would be a change of scenery, but I'd doubt it happens this year.
Can it really get worse for Snyder?
A fan base that despises him, a media corps that jumps on every wrong move he makes (and rightfully so), and business decisions that are questionable, to say the least.
The Redskins' loyal fan base hates him, whether it's his apparent price gouging any chance he gets or the fact that he puts out a mediocre product on the field that usually has more drama than an old rerun of "Melrose Place."
This new lawsuit against Washington City Paper for defamation of character because of this article published back in November doesn't make him look any better.
The truth is, Snyder is willing to at least pump money into the franchise (albeit poorly), but it's been an absolute mess.
If he wants to fix his image, start winning games. It'll at least be a start.
Tim Tebow was Josh McDaniels' last stand/pet project as Broncos' coach, drafting the quarterback in the first round as the possible QB and the future.
Late in the season Tebow got his chance to be the starter and played relatively well, giving the Broncos a tough question to answer: Is Tebow the guy?
He still needs work as a passer, the run-first style he has will play for a while but eventually defenses will adjust and contain him.
But considering the Broncos are in rebuilding mode, it won't hurt to at least let Tebow try and give him a shot.
But if Tebow gets a chance to be a starter, what happens to Kyle Orton, who's blossomed into a nice little quarterback with the Broncos?
If he's made available, he would definitely be a hot commodity.
Tennessee, Arizona, Minnesota, Washington, Carolina, Miami—all could be looking for a proven quarterback to come in and take over.
So Orton is definitely a trade asset that could bring the Broncos a lot in return.
Of course, if Tebow falters, then Orton slides in and it's a moot point. But if the Broncos really want to move forward with Tebow, then Orton needs to be moved.
After weeks of speculation and one quarterback-coach fight on television, the 49ers got their man in Jim Harbaugh.
He now tries to do what Mike Singletary couldn't: get the 49ers to live up to their potential.
Individually, the 49ers have some great parts. But they haven't been able to put it all together. San Francisco was supposed to waltz to the NFC West crown in 2010. Instead, the Niners finished third.
Harbaugh will have his chance to show his stuff, and if any coach can make the move from college to the pros, it's him.
And the cupboard isn't bare; he still has Frank Gore, Patrick Willis, et al.
So will Harbaugh get the Niners back to the Playoffs? Eventually, but not this year.
All in all, it was probably for the best that Vince Young is leaving Tennessee.
The pressure was just too great, the disappointments just too bitter and the expectations just too high.
Fact of the matter was Young was making progress as a passer before his injury this season that eventually led to the walk-out on coach Jeff Fisher.
Now both are gone, and looking for work.
Like I said, Young is showing improvement, but still needs work. Like Owens, some team will give him a shot. But I'd be surprised to see him starting this season.
Webb wasn't fantastic, but he was good enough to beat the Eagles on that infamous Tuesday night game. Now, like a few other teams, the Vikings have a decision to make.
Webb and Tarvaris Jackson are on the roster, and we know about Jackson.
So what will the Vikings do? Can Webb be a starter?
Leslie Frazier has said he wants to find a franchise quarterback this offseason, and I'd think with no real great shakes in the Draft, Webb might get a chance.
But knowing the Vikings, they'll go get a veteran quarterback to be the starter. Webb will have a chance to compete, but he won't be the starter in Minnesota.
For the first time in a long time, there's actual hope surrounding the Lions.
Lions fans are actually excited for next year. And what's not to like? A four-game winning streak at the end of the year, finally winning a game on the road, maybe being a few plays away from being a (gasp) eight or nine-win team.
Of course, we've heard this before and then seen a 2-14 season follow it up. But with the pieces they have, I think this just might be the real deal.
I still have to see it proven on the field, but the Lions are definitely trending upwards.
So is it Ochocinco, or is it Johnson? Either way, it looks like the end of Chad in Cincy.
Johnson (apparently he's going back to that name) looks to be on the way out as the Bengals move forward, and it's hard to blame them.
While Johnson is a character who's never been in trouble (with the law at least) and was one of the best receivers in his prime, he's leaving his prime and he's clearly lost a step.
So don't be surprised if we hear the Bengals and the man formerly known as Ocho have parted ways soon.
McCoy and the Browns at least started to take strides this season, but the Browns won't go anywhere in the future if the Browns don't get McCoy a playmaker.
Peyton Hillis had a breakout season at running back, but you know defenses will be keying in on him now. If the Browns want to keep getting better, they need a big receiver.
And unless they can lure Braylon Edwards back (that's a joke, people), it'll come through the draft in the form of A.J. Green.
If he's there, the Browns will take him. And while he might not be one right away, he's a start.
Campbell had some growing pains, but he emerged and grew as the Raiders did during the year and improved.
I know the jury's still out on whether he can be a star quarterback, but he's making strides with that young receiving corps.
The Raiders would be wise to stick it out with Campbell to see how it goes, mostly because he's the better option on the roster.
As long as he doesn't turn into JaMarcus, it'll be okay.
But Campbell will be the guy. Hey, maybe it was the Redskins all along.
Andy's all alone at the top.
With Jeff Fisher out, Reid's now the longest-tenured coach in the NFL. But after the Eagles missed the Super Bowl again, the seat has to be getting warm at some point.
The rumors that Jon Gruden was sweeping in to take over the job have to be some sort of sign.
I know Reid gets his teams to the playoffs, but eventually there has to be some standard for getting his teams over the hump.
Even his tenure eventually couldn't save Fisher.
Reid's not going anywhere. But the pressure has to be building.
So the controversy is over and it turns out Jay Cutler was badly hurt. Now the bigger question is, could the Bears survive without him if they needed to?
Caleb Hanie was very good at the end of the NFC Championship Game, while Todd Collins was, well, Todd Collins.
Cutler should be ready to go by next season, but if something were to happen to him, could the Bears survive.
If the two games in 2010 where he was knocked out were any inclination, then no. But the Bears are also a resilient team that has that battling spirit about it.
But they still need Cutler.
I'm still trying to wrap my head around that Ben Roethlisberger wasn't able to drive the Steelers for the game-winning score, because that's the kind of thing he just does.
Roethlisberger might not be the most technical quarterback and doesn't put up the best stats (another so-so Super Bowl), but he also wins.
And with that team around him, that's good enough.
So of course, Big Ben has the capability and can lead the Steelers back to the Super Bowl. But Pittsburgh was also very fortunate at times this year.
They won't be so lucky next year, especially with the Patriots lurking.
This time last year, the Jets were rationalizing cutting Thomas Jones loose because they felt Shonn Greene could carry the load. One year later, the Jets are coming off another AFC Championship Game loss.
But the questions still remain.
Greene and Tomlinson showed flashes, but they were also too inconsistent to support that offense.
Tomlinson can't handle a the workload of a No.1 back anymore, which leaves Greene. The Jets still have faith in him and he'll be the guy next year.
But if it doesn't work out, then he may just be a complimentary back in this league.
The Jets have many questions this offseason, including the fate of their two free-agent wide receivers.
Both Holmes and Edwards are on the market and among the Jets' 17 free-agents, and with David Harris receiving the franchise tag, it's not an option for either.
And if you listen to the Jets, it sounds like they're already resigned to the fact they'll probably only keep one.
My guess is that it will be Holmes, who is more of a deep threat and can use his size and leaping ability like Edwards can. It's not out of the realm of possibility that the Jets can keep both, but it's not likely.
Speaking of the Jets, boy that "Hard Knocks" was something last season, wasn't it?
Heck, we thought Rex Ryan was the king of profanity until HBO introduced us to Bruce Boudreau, apparently a volcano waiting to blow.
So now, what will the network do for an encore after its highly-successful season?
If it's me, I want to see the Raiders, for one reason only: Al Davis, on camera, uncensored. It may not make any sense, but tell me that's not captivating television.
Kubiak has built an offense and at least kept Matt Schaub close to one piece (which is more than Dom Capers can say for David Carr), but the fact of the matter is it's closing in on 10 seasons and the Texans still haven't made the postseason.
In fact, they've had more than eight wins just once.
Bud McNair decided to keep Kubiak around for one more go, but the message has been sent that the heat is on. If the Texans underwhelm again, then McNair might not have a choice but to fire Kubiak.
Last year, Pierre Thomas was one of the heroes of the Saints' Super Bowl run.
Now he might not be back, along with Reggie Bush, if the Saints decide to go with Christopher Ivory as its starting running back.
Thomas was injured for a large chunk of last season as was Bush, and it's very possible one of them, if not both, could be gone.
Most likely, as AOL Fanhouse reported, Bush could stay for a paycut with Ivory.
Which means the Saints will probably draft a running back at some point and not make a big move at free agency.
The Falcons were the Cinderella team for most of 2010, so of course they fell flat on their face at home in their lone playoff game.
So which Falcons team will we see in 2011—the team we saw in the regular season or the one that choked in the Playoffs?
It's tough to say, especially in the NFC South, where things change from year to year, and especially since New Orleans and Tampa Bay are right at their heels.
Atlanta has the pieces to be very good. Just don't be surprised to see them take a step back this season.
There's no doubting Bailey is one of the best cover corners of our generation, especially after Deion Sanders retired.
But he's also getting older and starting to get to that point as a defensive back where he's not a star corner anymore.
He's lost a step and speed is everything at that position. The Denver Post is already reporting Bailey is unlikely to return to Denver.
Teams will still look at him as a starter, but how much longer until Bailey is a No. 2 corner or a nickel back at 34?
He's great, but he's not Darrell Green, either.
Perhaps the Raiders could take a look, depending on what happens with their own star corner.
"Imagine what you'll know tomorrow."
Yes, I just used an Agent K (the great Tommy Lee Jones) line from Men In Black, but we all knew last month that Andrew Luck was the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft.
That was before Luck threw a wrench in all of that and decided to stay in school.
Now mock drafts are all over the place.
Most have Auburn DT Nick Fairley as the No. 1 overall pick, but I'm still very high on A.J. Green as the best prospect.
Defensive tackles and lineman can be found anywhere, but a playmaking receiver like Green doesn't come along that often, especially one with Green's size, hands and agility.
There were a lot of holes that were exposed in the Eagles' Wild Card Loss to Green Bay, perhaps only the injury-ravaged secondary more so or even to the offensive line.
Any Eagles fan around Philadelphia will tell you Michael Vick can't take the beating he took at the end of the season from gaping holes in the offensive line.
Most mock drafts have the Eagles taking a lineman in the first round, but I doubt that'll be enough. I'd think the Eagles will look at a top-flight center or guard if they can't land a cornerback in free agency or a trade.
Of course, a trade is also a possibility for an offensive lineman, although Jason Peters hasn't been setting the world on fire.
Yes, the 7-9 Seahawks won the NFC West and won a playoff game.
I'm still trying to figure it out.
Seattle could very well win the division again, considering how wide open it is and Pete Carroll can get more of his own guys on the roster. But the NFC West is such a screwy division that no one really knows what will happen.
The safe bet will be to go with the defending champs to come out of the NFC West. Someone has to win it, right?
Bradshaw did enough to wrestle the starting job from Brandon "Helmet Toss" Jacobs at the beginning of the season, but that was before he turned into pre-2004 Tiki Barber.
In other words, Mr. Fumble.
Bradshaw had seven fumbles and lost six of them, but perhaps more important is when they happened, which always seemed to be at the worst possible times.
He rushed for more than 1,000 yards and can be a very good back, but like Barber he needs to work on his hands and his ball-holding skills.
Or else he won't get many more chances.
So now that the Vince Young era is over in Tennessee, who will be the quarterback now? And no, he can't go to a permanent Wildcat with Chris Johnson.
Kerry Collins is still around, and he's been pressed into duty before. There's even Rusty Smith, who had a forgettable debut in Houston. There's even the chance the Titans could draft a quarterback.
But the Titans will go out and look for a quarterback, and there should be a few that will be available. That's the best choice to not only take the pressure off of Johnson and keep him happy, but also make the Titans more balanced with a healthy Kenny Britt at receiver.
So another year goes by and the Redskins need another quarterback. It seems like Mr. Snyder goes through quarterbacks like he goes through coaches and coordinators.
Unless Mike Shanahan really feels Rex Grossman is the "franchise guy" or Donovan McNabb comes back, the Redskins will be expected to draft a quarterback in the first round of the Draft.
And really, is there much discussion that they won't?
Washington could go with an outside linebacker or a defensive end, but most Mock Drafts have them taking Blaine Gabbert out of Missouri, and that's going to be the pick if he's still there.
The last time Coughlin had one more year to turn it around, the Giants became Super Bowl champions.
I'm thinking unless that or something close happens next year, Coughlin won't be back.
After the Giants collapsed in November and December (again), Coughlin will be back as the head coach But he has to know that management is watching him now. He can't afford to have another December like he had last year or like he's had in the past.
The Giants wouldn't replace a coach midseason, at least not recently. But Coughlin may just have one year left in Big Blue.
The League isn't done dealing with the super mess it left behind in Dallas, as some fans are now joining a class-action suit against the league for the temporary seat fiasco. But that's the least of their problems.
The NFL is wandering down a dangerous path with these negotiations, the same one baseball wandered down a few years ago. The billionaires vs. millionaires debate that neither won and left the fans bitter.
Let's face it, the NFL has been the sports king in America ever since 1994. And there's no reason to think the league still won't be when this is all said and done.
But the NFL is playing a dangerous game here. And if they're not careful, then everyone could lose.
Frazier was one of the hot names among assistant coaches before he got his chance with the axing of Brad "Chilly" Childress, and the Vikings at least played hard for him down the stretch.
Now he's getting the chance to prove himself as a head coach.
Frazier's already built a pretty strong defense and the parts are already there for him to be successful in Minnesota. If he could find a quarterback, he'd be set.
But of course, that was when he was the interim coach. Now that he's the guy, we'll have to watch (same with Jason Garrett) if the players respond to him the same. If so, then he can be one of the great young coaches.
Just as a note, the last defensive coordinator from Minnesota to get a coaching job was Mike Tomlin. And I think he turned out OK.
Already there are teams tripping over themselves to get a chance at Asomugha, one of the best cover corners in the game and perhaps the most desired free-agent on the market this season (Philadelphia fans have already been dreaming of him and Asante Samuel on the edges since January).
He's been a great ambassador for the Raiders and the League, and even dealt with Al Davis most of his career. He's said publicly he'd like to be back with the Raiders, which is a good sign.
Basically, the Raiders need to find a way to get the deal done. He actually wants to be there, which might make him the first player to willingly want to stay since Rich Gannon.
DeMaurice Smith is embedding himself in the trenches.
If you follow the analogy of equating the NFL labor negotiations to war, as the NFLPA head supposedly said, then it makes sense. If it seems silly comparing labor negotiations to an act where men and women die defending their country, well, then you're like most of us.
Smith's point was a correct one, and William Rhoden of the New York Times defended the tone, but not the analogy. Smith hasn't backed down from his words, and he's also making it clear the union won't back down, either.
Making the analogy wasn't the best choice of words, but Smith is making his position clear. But he might want to change the analogy soon, or else the fans might start siding with the owners.
At this stage, it's really hard to tell how Goodell will be remembered.
It might be as a hard disciplinarian who also gave bigger names breaks on suspensions. It might be as someone who wanted to limit concussions but yet wants an 18-game schedule. It might be a man whose league claims to be about the fans yet has something like tickets go awry.
It won't be until the labor situation resolves when we know what Goodell will be remembered as, as with Smith. But so far, it's not looking good for either side.
Villain, no, at least not yet. Hypocrite, that's a different story.
It has to happen soon, right?
Tom Brady can't be playing like this forever. He can't have a season like he did for the next 10 years. He's human, we think. Eventually even the legendary ones slow down.
Brady will be slowing down; it just has to happen because it happens to all of us.
But it won't happen this year—we still have a couple of more years of Brady and his Bieber-esque haircut just being plain better than most.
Rodgers played at a level during the playoffs that we've rarely seen before. You tell me when you saw a quarterback that accurate during the most stretch of the season.
He firmly planted himself outside of Brett Favre's shadow and made himself one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL. Yet we never hear him discussed in the MVP talk, especially in the same breath as Brady, Brees or Roethlisberger.
If Rodgers continues to play at this level, it'll be hard not to be in the discussion, if not winning the MVP altogether. Of course, it'll depend on what that guy in New England does.
In terms of offseason coaches on the hot seat, it was a relatively quiet offseason. Jack Del Rio, Coughlin and Kubiak all kept their jobs when they could've been canned.
But they're now squarely in focus entering 2011. Kubiak and Coughlin have patient owners on their side who would either let them go the whole season or at least let them finish the season. But Jaguars ownership has already said they won't accept another 8-8 season.
If the Jaguars start off slow again, look for Del Rio to be the first to go.
Yes, it's him.
I know you're sick about hearing him. I am too.
But you don't think this is it, do you? It can't be it. It wrapped up too nicely.
Unfortunately, you all know what will happen come July—the ESPN trucks will be outside the Favre compound, Ed Werder will narrate him mowing his lawn, and some team will be asking him to make them a Super Bowl contender.
Favre says he's done, but we've heard that before. Until August rolls around and he's not working out, I refuse to believe it. And since he probably will, I'll say some team tries to get him for a late run.
Yes I know Jay Cutler was seriously hurt. But it's a fair question to ask.
One of the biggest games in team history and Cutler goes down, after he wasn't playing particularly well to begin with.
You would think Bears fans would be somewhat bitter, even after all the "quit" rumors came out. But to their defense and credit, they've supported him full bore, even after the game.
So have Bears fans forgiven Cutler? Either they already have or they never blamed him to start.
What will the Panthers do with that pick?
They're not trading it and they won't go quarterback with it. Da'quan Bowers doesn't seem like a fit and Patrick Peterson isn't a huge need. It really sounds like it will come down to Auburn's Nick Fairley and Georgia's A.J. Green.
I've been saying Green here but it'll probably be Fairley. He's a big defensive tackle who can be a force and the Panthers could definitely use that.
They could use Green more, but I'd be surprised if it's not Fairley.
The Colts came about as close to missing the Playoffs as they have in the Peyton regime in a while. And while Manning is still around, you have to wonder about the rest of this team.
The key players are getting older, the line is not protecting Manning, Joseph Addai can't stay healthy and Austin Collie can't be in good mental shape right now.
I'm going to go out on a limb, the Colts aren't making the Playoffs. Of course, this means they'll be 11-0 in November, but I'll take my chances on that.
I'm calling it right now—the best chance to dethrone the Packers comes from Foxborough.
Okay, real big limb saying the Patriots could knock off the Packers. But it's true.
Despite their excellence, the Steelers haven't proven they can beat the Patriots. New England is extremely hard to beat when they're focused on the task at hand, and as long as they don't make any foot puns and run into the Jets, they're in good shape.
Plus, I've learned never to bet against Brady.
Since it's clear Michael Vick's going to be the guy in Philly, it's fair to ask which Michael Vick will we see next year: the one that tore up the NFL, or the one who was beaten up at the end of the year?
Vick has the potential to be dynamic; if he continues to progress, he can light it up in that offense. But he also needs help, specifically more balance and something resembling an offensive line.
Vick has all the potential in the world and he can be that guy who lit up the Redskins. There's no question he can't be.
He just needs help.
Vick's franchising means the Eagles have to decide about Kevin Kolb. In a perfect world, they'd like to keep him and they've said as such. But they also know he wants to start.
So the best option is to trade him and a good place to look would be Arizona. The Cardinals have a dire need for a quarterback, Larry Fitzgerald's already lobbying for him and the Cards have that No. 5 pick they can dangle out there.
It's worth a look.
Haynesworth has become a major distraction in Washington. From his physical fitness to whatever it is he was doing trying to catch Michael Vick, Haynesworth has to be gone next season.
Of course, the big question is what you do with him. You'd like to get something for him, but how can you trade that contract?
You don't want to give him his wish and just release him, but forcing him to play next year won't do anyone any favors either.
In a perfect world, the Redskins want to trade him. Whether they can do it is a different story.
McNabb won't be back in Washington, that's definite. But where could he go?
We've already outlined the places that need quarterback help, but some of those wouldn't be a good fit for him, namely Arizona.
So you're left with Tennessee and Minnesota. Both teams are run-oriented, which means McNabb doesn't have to do much. Both have solid defenses, both have nice receivers. But Minnesota also has the best chance of getting back to where they want to be, while Tennessee is struggling to find an identity.
McNabb's best bet is in Minnesota.
Another year goes by and it's still an issue.
We still see the same hits and we still see the same devastating injuries. It won't be long until the players of 60 years ago who can't remember the previous day become the players of six years ago who have the same symptoms. We're already starting to see it.
The problem is, what more can be done?
Sometimes it's not the hit, it's the snapback. The DeSean Jackson-Dunta Robinson play was a clean hit—it was his head hitting the ground that caused the concussion. Unfortunately, until we have the technology to stabilize the neck on impact, the problem won't go away.
But some clarity on what an illegal hit is would help.
Which, of course, led to Hines Ward's argument that the league is so worried about concussions, yet wants an 18-game schedule. He's understandably upset about the issue.
And I agree completely.
Football is violent enough during 16 weeks—adding two more games would only make it worse.
And for what, a few extra dollars and two more weeks for networks to fill programming?
In part, the NFL is just doing what the customer wants: more football.
But at what cost? I may not like it, but we're going to see it, sooner rather than later.
Of course, all of this pales in comparison to the big question:
Will any of this matter in the fall?
It'll all depend on how the negotiations go, and as we know, they can be tricky business. They can break down and start up so rapidly, it's hard to predict how they will go and how long it will take. The sides definitely have their talking points, and neither one looks like it wants to budge.
My guess is that we'll have football sometime in 2011. It might not be in September, but there'll be football.
Both sides know they can't afford not to.