The NFL lockout is supposed to end this week, possibly as early as today. And Lord help me, IT BETTER, or else I will personally void my bowels on Logan Mankins's head.
I don't know about you, but the lockout has lasted so long that I have legitimately forgotten many things about the current working state of the NFL. Since March, I've been unable to focus on anything other than "leverage" and "breakthroughs" and "what a huge pussy Roger Goddell is." I've forgotten some of the more important changes in the sport since we last left it. Did you know that Jeremy Shockey is a Panther now? I completely forgot about that. I'm not sure I ever knew it to begin with, because Jeremy Shockey BLOWS. But that's the kind of stuff that's going to float back up to the surface after this lockout is over. IT WILL ALL START COMING BACK TO YOU. So before the lockout ends and mass hysteria begins, allow me to quickly guide you through a couple of things.
All scoring plays are now subject to replay review and coaches don't have to use their challenges flags for them. I swear I don't remember this happening. This rule essentially serves to partially neutralize your team's head coach fucking up his use of the challenge flags on touchdowns and field goals. So it's a mild relief to anyone who roots for the Bears or Eagles. But coaches will still be able to challenge the usual nagging things like turnovers, the spot of the ball, and control of the ball on a reception. I don't know why the NFL doesn't just go all the way and get rid of the challenges and make any questionable play subject to a booth review. They're clearly heading in that direction, and people are probably less inclined to bitch about it lengthening games in the age of DVRs.
One drawback to this rule is that it will ratchet up the existential dread you feel when your team scores a touchdown you know ought to be overturned. That's a horrible moment, when you think you're about to get away with a touchdown but OH GOD SOMEONE MIGHT THROW A CHALLENGE FLAG. Then you have to sit there for two minutes and will Lovie Smith to not throw the flag, and then sigh with relief when he happily obliges you.
Kickoffs are now from the 35-yard-line. This means more touchbacks, which means less awesome kickoff return TDs. I would be upset about this, except for the fact that when I play fantasy football, I ALWAYS somehow face the team that got a kickoff return touchdown that week, which is ASS BULLSHIT. Speaking of fantasy…
Your Lindys fantasy football guide is even more worthless than usual. Every summer, the folks at Lindys and Street & Smith's publish dead-tree fantasy football guides early in the summer that always, by September, feel hilariously dated. But they outdid themselves this year, with Lindys publishing a fantasy guide in June, well before the lockout was over. The guide reflects NO free agency moves. For all I know, it contains nothing but 200 pages of Scorpions lyrics because no one purchased it.
The 18-game schedule is dead for at least two years. I asked Mike Florio, who you know best as the progenitor of the Great Moments in Poop series, about why we haven't heard about 18 games in these final CBA talks. He says:
I think it will be tabled until 2013. Then it would be negotiated as a stand-alone issue. Better for the players to get concessions that way.
Besides, there's no way they would have expanded to 18 games before 2013. Super Bowls are set in stone — 2 extra games wouldn't have fit.
2014 Super Bowl is flexible, in light of possibility for 18 games.
No more two-a-days. Ever. Bart Scott is crazy pissed pissed about this, apparently because Bart Scott is a raving lunatic. I'm sure this news will cause any number of old school NFL fans to go nuts about how the game is soft now and we're raising a generation of pussies and all that. "In my day, we had eight-a-days, and then you were gang-raped and stabbed to death in the barracks at night! TAUGHT YOU TO BE A MAN." This will likely not affect you, the NFL fan, at all. Except that some people might tell you it reduces the possibility of training camp holdouts, only to turn out that that won't be true because the coaches will have replaced two two-hour practices a day with one two-hour practice and one 26-hour film session/meeting a day, which is a fate worse than practicing. I'd much rather be out on a field running around than in some conference room staring at a greaseboard. Someone's gonna go postal in an NFL tape session one day. Why Charles Haley didn't is beyond me. I think it was because they let him masturbate during the meetings.
Also, while the lack of extra practices may make for a sloppy beginning to the season, the fact of the matter is that the beginning of the season is usually kinda sloppy anyway. Only no one gives a shit because OH THANK JEBUS FOOTBALL IS BACK I HAD TO WATCH WOMEN'S SOCCER FOR A DAY.
That cuntface Brett Favre isn't coming back. It's okay to say it now. He's not coming back, because he's old and shitty and no one wants him. Candyman Candyman Candyman. See?
I give it until Week 5 before he's permanently added to the FOX set and you want to kill yourself.
Your starting rookie QBS are likely as follows: Cam Newton in Carolina, Jake Locker in Tennessee, Christian Ponder in Minnesota, Andy Dalton in Cincinnati, and maybe Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco. Blaine Gabbert, drafted by the Jaguars, will likely sit behind David Garrard for a bit. And the nice thing about all of these rookie quarterbacks is that they will come relatively cheap, thanks to the rookie wage scale. In fact, the rookie wage scale could help make both the league and the draft more exciting, because no longer will the top 5 of so picks be financial albatrosses that no one wants to trade up for. Those picks SHOULD be coveted, and the wage scale will ensure that. And when Cam Newton inevitably plays horribly and is released by Carolina four years from now, at least he'll have cost them a little less than $50 million in guarantees.
John Beck is apparently your Redskins starting quarterback. At least, he's hoping that if he says it enough, everyone will just go along with it. Though it's rumored the Skins are also looking at Matt Leinart, which is like trying to cure your AIDS by giving yourself herpes.
Gus Johnson is at FOX now. Which means instead of him getting assigned to the Bengals every week for reasons no one can explain, he'll be assigned to the Lions every week for reasons no one can explain. MEGATRUHHHHHH! DOWN THE SIDELINEEEE!!!!! WOW!!!!!!!
Thursday Night Football. The adorably-named Sacramento Bee says The Thursday Night schedule could soon be extended to cover the full season. Which means the NFL would now dominate three nights out of your week during the fall. Oh, and you're going to get divorced. Be sure to fight for that 48% share of gross revenue! THAT'S THE LEAST THE WOMAN CAN DO FOR YOU.
Everyone's gonna be rich. Except you. You're still gonna be poor. No one said life was fair.
Anyway, keep your fingers crossed. The NFL may not look quite the same when this is all over, but at least it will be here. And frankly, they could add speed baking to the game at this point and I wouldn't mind.