The reality of an NFL lockout hit full force Monday when I saw Lions kicker Jason Hanson at the drinking fountain at my local Life Time Fitness.
He was doing mostly weight training on a slow Monday morning in the gym.
He’s got nowhere to train because he is not allowed inside the Lions practice facility and cannot talk to coaches and the training staff. The king of sports is shut down. It just hasn’t hit home for the rest of us because we have not missed one game, one hit or another Lions loss.
We haven’t gathered around the water cooler on a Monday morning second-guessing coach Jim Schwartz or wondering if Matthew Stafford will last the season. Everything seems status quo outside of those clips we saw a few weeks ago of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and New England quarterback Tom Brady walking down the street before and after negotiations.
The NFL now is a 365-day-a-year league. The draft is scheduled as normal, beginning two weeks from this Thursday. The draft guides are out. Fans are discussing who the Lions should take with the 13th pick and even the top collegiate athletes will walk across the stage, shake commissioner Roger Goodell’s hand, and wear a cap of the team that selected them.
After that, the league will roll into bubble wrap unless a deal is hammered out.
ESPN is reporting that a judge will impose forced mediation on the NFLPA and the NFL. The two sides both agree that more mediation is necessary, but they cannot even agree where to have it.
I won’t bore you with the details because I get the feeling the public doesn’t really care. ESPN provided wall-to-wall coverage and I admit I often turned the channel midway through it. Now when I see lockout news, I just shut it off.
This is April, not August when training camp begins. Players will miss some OTAs and will be forced to work out with you and me. So what? It just doesn’t hit home yet with the public with what is going on.
For players, it does. Hanson said most of the players he talks to are trying to maintain things now, but at some point they will need to find trainers to push them further. Some guys have returned home while others have found workout partners in the Detroit area.
This whole thing seems ridiculous. The owners are not losing money. The players are not going broke. And the league is the most prosperous in our country. I still am trying to figure out what the point of this lockout is. What you have is a few hundred people trying to figure out how to slice up a multi-billion dollar pie.
Meanwhile, the people who really will get hurt are the little guys trying to hammer out a minimum-wage salary. The people who work concessions and show us to our seats need that money. Sunday’s are always a great source of business for the bars and restaurants in Detroit who need every high-ticket day they can get.
It might just be eight dates, but NFL gameday packs a huge punch that can make a place profitable for the week.
These are the people I think about.
It was great seeing Hanson on Monday but I don’t want to see him in my gym. Get out.
There is plenty of room for him, but he belongs in Allen Park with the rest of the Lions.