As we've all come to know and dread, the NFL is undergoing a lockout which is currently at day 119. We're approaching the time where teams, players and fans alike are simply getting fed up with the hold on football and want their favorite sport to resume action.
With the uncertainty that this lockout brings forth, players are worried whether or not they'll be able to play the game they love or if they'll even be able to provide for their families with a paycheck. In fact, some athletes have already explored alternate avenues in the meantime.
I've been enjoying the game ever since I was eight years old and have become accustomed to the offseason events such as free agency and rookie mini-camp, but this lockout has forced me to endure endless reports with updates on negotiations. Frankly at this point, the only one I want to hear is the announcement that this lockout has been lifted.
Aside from everyone simply being fed up with this work stoppage, the lockout has a domino effect of negative impact that will spread throughout the entire league.
With that being said, here are the top five reasons the lockout must be lifted now.
The NBA has already been threatened by players such as Deron Williams opting to play overseas in Turkey, which is a viable option since they're facing a lockout as well.
While the NFL doesn't offer as strong options at the international level, there are chances that some players could leave and engage in various activities.
Most notably Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco has already attempted to ride a bull, took a test drive in NASCAR, tried out for the MLS club Sporting Kansas City and who knows what he'll do next.
In addition, Baltimore Ravens safety Tom Zbikowski decided to pursue his passion in boxing during his time off.
This is bad for the league because it can not only increase the risk of injury but also it gets players off focus. Imagine the outrage that would emerge if Tom Brady left in order to become a full-time model for UGG. That's why the lockout must end now.
The lockout wasn't a huge deal when it started, especially since some presumed it would only last for a span of a couple weeks. I'm sure a lot of us remember hearing, "There's no way they actually have a lockout." Apparently that's no longer the case and day by day it becomes a more serious matter. In fact, even though talks are progressing, there's still a legitimate possibility that the season could at least be cut short if not eliminated all together.
Typically at this time, rookies are participating in mini-camps and coaches are able to set up organized team activities. The preparation for the daunting challenges that lie ahead in the season starts now.
July 20 is when training camp is scheduled to start, and Aug. 7 is the Hall of Fame game. If the lockout isn't over by either of those dates, then this would be a disaster.
Plus even though the NFL does have a tremendous impact on the national economy, this is not something that our legal system should have to deal with. It's really getting out of hand.
Last year we had the pleasure of watching two young rookies in quarterback Sam Bradford of the St. Louis Rams and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh of the Detroit Lions blossom into true professionals. It seemed as if the transition from the college ranks to the NFL was a seamless move for them. In total, last year's rookie class consisted of five Pro Bowlers.
Will we witness a replicate of success this coming season? This isn't a knock against the players' talents, even though many aren't considered pro-ready, but the odds are against them.
Most rookies say the biggest difference between college and the pros is the speed of the game and the mental aspect of it. Most of that is developed through comprehending the playbook, learning coaches and training with your teammates throughout the offseason.
Unfortunately this year's rookies don't have the privilege of doing so with the lockout, as they're prohibited from having any contact whatsoever with their respective franchises.
When the lockout does end, they'll have just a matter of weeks to get adjusted to the league which will probably result in a longer waiting period resting on the sidelines.
As I referenced to earlier, the lockout is distorting the general way things operate in the NFL during the offseason.
This is usually a time period where each team gets an opportunity to execute roster changes in order to put themselves in the best possible situation for the upcoming season. As part of it, players are cut, trades are made and free agents are signed. With the lockout it's much different and none of that can occur.
With just under a month before the first preseason game, that gives the league limited time to get things done.
This hurts everyone from the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers, who won't be able to reinforce their roster now that they've got a target on their back, to the Dallas Cowboys, who were hoping to make a return back to dominance, and especially to the Carolina Panthers, who are undergoing a complete makeover in rebuilding their franchise.
Not to mention, top-notch free agents such as Nnamdi Asomugha are left wondering where their futures lie as he's yet to be signed. On a side note, undrafted rookies lose their opportunity to prove themselves to teams, which makes turning their dreams into realities a tougher obstacle to overcome.
Like any skill, football must be practiced on a daily basis in order to master it even at the highest level because even their ability will diminish if they take a prolonged break.
Sure, they're able to get a bit of work done at some B-grade training centers, but that's not even comparable to what the grueling game demands.
Without players being able to get a hold of the revised playbook or work on specific technique drills or work one-on-one with position coaches, it's going to have a clear effect on game day.
I'm not saying we won't be seeing any highlight plays or overtime thrills, but there's no doubt that the overall play will not be the same.
Moreover, without gradually getting up to pace, it exposes players to injuring themselves. Just look at Darrelle Revis, who pulled his hamstring multiple times last season after a contract holdout. It affects even the best in the business.