The NFL’s new CBA was a much needed bit of good news for fans in uncertain times


It says something about the times we are living in when the mere fact that something won’t be postponed is cause for a major sigh of relief, yet that is essentially what the elbow bump agreement between the National Football League and its players association on Sunday was all about.

As much as blissful harmony between team owners and the athletes that collect wages from them would be nice, the best bit about the ratification of a new collective bargaining agreement running through 2030 was that there won’t be a work stoppage, at least not for reasons of industrial dispute.

Who knows how long the coronavirus shutdown will upend our lives and afflict our cherished sports? This column doesn’t pretend to have any kind of inside track on the medical front, our best advice being that investing in a quality bidet is a surefire way to delay toilet roll shortage anxiety.

Humanity has survived because of our ability to roll with the punches, and while this is quite the modern test, our predecessors had to go through a lot more at various times. Yet one thing that’s certain is that when this all wraps up, whenever that may be, we will all be thoroughly fatigued of upheaval.

There will be a hankering for normalcy once COVID-19 is contained to an acceptable level and the current stresses on life subside. A cease in activities involving America’s favorite sport and national obsession, or even an impasse that threatened one, would have been wholly unwelcome and felt like another blow to the gut.

Of course, there are more important things than being able to indulge in the activity of watching sports, which is a form of entertainment and an enjoyable pastime, not something we were ever entitled to by right. But part of healing from dark periods in human history, especially those that cause great hardship and extensive loss of life, is an ability for things to eventually return to normal.

In football at least, as long as the current shutdown on public gatherings does not extend all through the summer and into the back end of the year, standard operations should be possible.

In truth, it never seemed like a stalemate, even on the scale of the one seen in the NFL in 2011, would come particularly close to fruition. There were some vocal and high-profile critics of the owners’ offer, with Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, J.J. Watt and Richard Sherman all adamant that the players could and should hold out for better.

In the end, the package put together that will allocate the players a piece of the revenue pie that can climb to as much as 48.8 percent, increase the regular season to 17 games, and also see two extra playoff teams tacked on, got the requisite number of “yes” votes. We haven’t been hearing many final scorelines lately, but this one came in at 1,019 to 959, with several hundred players not voting.

It is a complex matter. Fears over player safety due to the extra game were the biggest sticking point for the detractors, but additional revenue benefits and increased roster sizes were seemingly enough of a carrot to persuade the required number of affirmers.

In Sports Illustrated, Conor Orr questioned whether football fans are ready for an increase in the amount of football we see. “The question the NFL and its loving stable of network partners have yet to answer for themselves is how the rest of you will feel about it,” Orr wrote. “Could you get tired of football again? How much is too much?”

I’m not in the business of issuing absolute predictions as to how we might mentally rebound from this strange period of social nervousness and sporting void, but personally speaking, I highly doubt we’ve reached that saturation point. I’m already desperate for something to watch.

Judging by social media, I’m not alone. If thousands of sports fanatics are gravitating towards things they wouldn’t normally watch — Australian rugby, Mexican soccer, European badminton and online video game racing — imagine how they will react to the return of their favorite viewing pleasures.

The football offseason always feels long, and you already know that this one will feel longer than ever. But, when the time is right, football will be back, pretty much as we know it — and with a little bit more of it as a viewing bonus, starting perhaps as early as next season.

It wasn’t the most important news of the weekend and, in truth, it’s not even news that needs processing right now.

But we’ll take it.

Source: Fox Sports

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