The NFL draft concluded Saturday and with it goes the feeling of normalcy that accompanied it. With the lockout resuming and the future of the sport we love in doubt still, the weight of this empty offseason is just going to grow and grow as time progresses.
Now I have a fully competent working brain so I understand that come Sunday's in September there will be football on my tv, the money is too great not to have it back by regular season, but that doesn't alleviate my apprehension for the upcoming season any more. If you sit back and look at the ramifications of this lockout, you have to both worry for your team if they are one in the process of rebuilding (like over half the NFL) and feel for the guys who went undrafted that are going to get the shaft if this thing isn't worked out fairly soon.
If, and there are a ton of if's, the NFL doesn't end it's lockout till around late July, early August (my projected time for a new CBA) then teams such as Cleveland, Carolina and San Francisco (to name a few) are basically going to lose a year in development while teams like Pittsburgh, Baltimore and the Jets will thrive because they have set systems filled with players who has been there for years and know what to do. We will see a season similar to the last one where the experienced teams that are at the top will stay at the top and the bottom feeders will still line the bottom of the standings.
Not exactly the worst thing in the world if you're a fan of an elite team but it's still a slap in the face of the parity image that the NFL has so painstakingly created over the last decade.
The real travesty out of all this, however, is that potential stud players that somehow didn't get drafted won't be able to get into camps and prove their worth. There is only a limited number of chances these guys get to make an impression and without an off season, they will find many of these gone for good. Potential finds like Willie Parker or James Harrison (I'm a Steelers fan, hence my examples), guys who wouldn't have made a team without being undrafted free-agents who impressed, aren't going to happen because of this lost time.
When the dust settles over this lockout, the NFL will still be America's game. It will still be the huge money maker it was and all will very quickly go back to normal. But that doesn't take away from the damage to thousands of lives that will happen because of it.
Both the owners and the players need to wake up and realize the damage this is doing. The media posturing and the petty games need to stop and this thing needs to be done yesterday, whatever it takes, before the cost of waiting becomes to high to stomach.