The 10 Best Stories During an NFL Lockout 2011 Offseason

Jack BurtonContributor IIMay 18, 2011

The 10 Best Stories During an NFL Lockout 2011 Offseason

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    WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 03: National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell, Rob Manfred, executive vice president of labor and human resources in the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball, Major League Baseball, NFL Players Association Executive Direc
    Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

    Writing stories during an NFL lockout is difficult.  Just recently, ESPN's main story was about ranking the best-looking NFL helmet.  Next week, they're ranking the teams with the best stadium sanitation crew.   There just isn't much to talk about.

    So, I've decided to make a story about stories.  Usually the events taking place, even during the offseason, are interesting enough to create full articles.  I've decided to save my breath, or hands, and not write for the sake of writing.  Each story here is as long as it is interesting.  So here's quantity over quality in "The 10 Best Stories During an NFL Lockout."

10. Is Alan Faneca Worthy of the NFL Hall of Fame?

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    PITTSBURGH - SEPTEMBER 16:  Alan Faneca #66 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on during the game against the Buffalo Bills on September 16, 2007 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steelers won 26-3. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    On May 10, Alan Faneca retired from the Arizona Cardinals. He played one year for the Arizona Cardinals, two years for the New York Jets, and ten years with the Pittsburgh Steelers.  

    It appears he's leaving with some years left in the tank, as he still seems very talented and injuries haven't been a problem.  In fact, he's only missed five games his entire career. 

    With his retirement brings questions of whether he's worthy of Canton.  I feel Alan Faneca is indeed worthy of the Hall of Fame.  Throughout most of his career, he had always been considered the best or one of the best guards playing in the NFL.  Each year he produced and helped make Pittsburgh one of the better run teams, especially when running on his side. 

    He ends his distinguished career with 9 Pro Bowls, 9 All-Pro Selections, and a Super Bowl victory.  With the Hall of Fame packed with Steelers and a player like Dermontti Dawson still on the outside looking in, it will be interesting to see if Faneca will make it to Canton, and if so, how long it will take.

9. Chad Ochocinco Shouldn't Quit His Day Job

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    ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 01:  NFL player Chad Johnson on the field during Super Bowl XLV Media Day ahead of Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 1, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. The Pittsburgh Steelers will play the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XL
    Michael Heiman/Getty Images

    Rare men hold the title of "Renaissance Man."  Chad Ochocinco has shown himself to be the exact opposite of a renaissance man this past offseason.  You have to hand it to a man who isn't afraid to publicly fail at various activities.  This past offseason, he showed why USA soccer still has a long way to go by almost making an MLS Team, Sporting Kansas City

    After displaying his bumbling buffoonery, he made the next logical decision to ride a bull at the rodeo.  With plans of staying on the bull long enough to win a truck, he fell off faster than a drunk girl on a mechanical bull during Spring Break in Daytona Beach.  Someone should've told him the clowns aren't the ones who ride the bulls. 

    As joyful as it is witnessing this man fail at every obscure activity he can think of, I plead for Chad to keep his day job.  Hopefully he'll stick to the two things he does best: playing mediocre football and butchering the Spanish language. 

8. Ben Roethlisberger, so Far so Good

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    ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06:  Ben Roethlisberger #7 and head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers look on during the National Anthem during Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Im
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    At this time last year, Ben Roethlisberger was the laughing stock of the NFL.  It seemed every year, Big Ben would almost plan the best ways to embarrass himself and the Steeler organization.  Last year, even many Pittsburgh fans preferred that he be traded or cut.  It's safe to say he hit rock bottom.   

    Whether you believe the accusations, or whether you believe his sincerity in his actions, the one fact that can't be argued is that Ben Roethlisberger has done everything and more to help repair his public image.  From his on-field play, improved relationship with media and teammates, to getting engaged and keeping quiet off the field for once, it's a welcome change to the typical offseason Steeler fans are used to.  

7. Lions on the Verge of Success?

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    Sad thing is that this isn't a fan but an actual Lions player.
    Sad thing is that this isn't a fan but an actual Lions player.Leon Halip/Getty Images

    Three things are certain in this world:  death, taxes and the Lions being a terrible football team. 

    Since 1957, the team has made the playoffs only nine times.  They have never appeared in the Super Bowl.  In 2008, they became the only team to go 0-16 (although they did win all four of their preseason games that year.)  Since the NFL restructured when it added a 32nd team, the Lions are the only NFC team not to make the playoffs.  The list could go on and on with miserable facts and statistics, but then this slide would have to become a multiple-page article. 

    Perhaps a glimmer of hope exists for this lowly franchise.  Those with knowledge of the game know the most important part of a good team and the first place to rebuild is on the offensive and defensive lines. With another great potential pick in Nick Fairley, in addition to last year's Defensive Rookie of the Year Ndamukong Suh, the Lions look to have an extremely dangerous defensive line for the future. 

    Detroit is a very young and talented team who seem to be on the right path.  If Matthew Stafford, Jahvid Best and Calvin Johnson can all stay healthy and on the same page, they could be poised to have a very good year. 

6. Grading Roger Goodell's Tenure as Commissioner

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    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 16: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell leaves court-ordered mediation at the U.S. Courthouse on May 16, 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Mediation was ordered after a hearing on an antitrust lawsuit filed by NFL players against the NFL ow
    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    September 1st will mark five years of Roger Goodell's reign over the NFL as commissioner.  People should truly ask if the NFL is a better place with Roger Goodell.  I feel he is a businessman without the football knowledge needed to succeed as commissioner.  Since taking over, it appears Roger Goodell has made his name well-known to the players and fans of the NFL. 

    The outcome of the NFL lockout will go a long way for his perception, but it seems in the eyes of the fans, the current perception of Mr. Goodell is not good.  Polls show fans greatly support the players in the lockout, and during the NFL draft, Mr Goodell couldn't hear himself talk over all the boo's from the crowd. 

    Aside from the NFL lockout, I feel that the decisions made by Goodell do not benefit the league.  Roger Goodell has supported expanding the league to Europe, increasing to an 18-game season and greatly limiting the physicality of the game.  He values the integrity of the game less than the NFL's profit.  It's when you treat the game like more of a business that both the game and business will suffer. 

5. The Trifecta of the AFC

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    PITTSBURGH - NOVEMBER 9:  Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks to pass down the field during the game against the Indianapolis Colts on November 9, 2008 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by: Rick Stewart/Gett
    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    Honestly, I wonder how much this topic has been talked about, but in the past decade, the AFC has been dominated by the Patriots, the Steelers and the Colts.  In fact, for the past eight years, the only teams represented during the Super Bowl for the AFC have been one of these three teams. 

    Teams have been competitive, but when it comes down to the end of the season, you can bet these three teams will be competing.  Many people talk about single team dynasties, but these teams seem to have a group dynasty in the works. 

4. NFL Rule Changes for 2011

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    so many rule changes
    so many rule changesSean Gardner/Getty Images

    In 2011, or whenever there is a league again, there will be some rule changes taking place.  The NFL, a sport built on violence and physical play, is attempting to be less physical and less violent. 

    In an attempt to reduce injuries, the NFL has decided to greatly reduce one of the most exciting plays in all of sports.  The NFL kickoff return is a highlight reel in the making.  Some of the most explosive players in the game have made names for themselves during kickoffs.  In 2011, the ball will be kicked from the 35-yard line instead of the 30-yard line.  As a result, there will be many more touchbacks, greatly diminishing one of the game's most famous plays. 

    Another rule change in the works is to restrict hits on receivers making a catch.  A trend within the NFL seems to be limiting defense.  It seems every year the defensive players have more and more rules, and must retrain and relearn their game. 

    I fear the game we all know and love could be changed for the worse.  If fear of injury is the concern, then perhaps the NFL should just stop playing NFL games all together.   

3. 18-Game Schedule

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    Injured Woodson watches the Packers in the Super Bowl
    Injured Woodson watches the Packers in the Super BowlAl Bello/Getty Images

    In what seems like a contradiction of the NFL's stance on player safety, the NFL has been pushing an 18-game schedule.  Profit seems to be the driving force for this new idea. 

    This seems like another short-sided example of NFL decision making.  In a move that will increase revenue from the two games added, it will also add greater risk for injury for NFL players.  Player's careers will end much sooner.  Popular players will be much more likely to be injured by the time of the playoffs and the Super Bowl.  Perhaps with the greater number of injuries, the NFL will have to limit physical play even more than they are limiting it today. 

    I fear the future of the NFL could be in jeopardy.  If the quality of play goes down, then profits will go down as well, and the lengthening of the season won't create any opportunities for the league to make more money.  

2. Large Number of Players Taking out Dangerous Loans

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    Injured Woodson watches the Packers in the Super Bowl
    Injured Woodson watches the Packers in the Super BowlHannah Foslien/Getty Images

    In a story I discovered in the Business Insider, many NFL players are taking out very large, high-interest loans.  Many of these loans are exceeding 30 percent interest.  It seems like an alarming trend, but a reality for a lot of players who rely on their salaries to pay for their many, many expenses. 

    This could prove to be a major story for the NFL lockout.  The NFL owners are all in great positions to wait this out as long as it takes.  This trend could show that the NFL players are in trouble and won't have the the luxury of waiting for the deal they want.

1. NFL Owners Look To Have Advantage in Lockout Dispute

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    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 17: Former NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith and the NFL players' lawyers arrive for court ordered mediation at the U.S. Courthouse on May 17, 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As the NFL lockout remains in pla
    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    The NFLPA seemed to win early, as it was granted an end to the lockout.  That victory, just like the decision, was only temporary, as a stay was granted for the NFL a couple of days later.  Now, it appears the NFL has the judge and decision makers they would prefer.  The business-oriented, conservative judges have granted the NFL a permanent stay.  With this ruling, the lockout could last a long time.


    With the decisions of the court and the financial status of many NFL players, it doesn't bode well for the NFLPA.