NFL Lockout: Baron Batch and Other New Players at Risk

With the lockout dragging on, players are looking for more creative ways to workout in the off-season. I was on Twitter the other day and saw Hines and Ochocinco tweeting pictures of each other working out together. What are we coming to if Hines is working out with Ocho? Well, veterans like Hines and Chad know that it’s important to get in shape before the lockout ends and the season begins. Assuming that we have a shortened season of some kind, the players will likely miss out on the preseason games that help teams work out the kinks, and players get fully prepared for the onslaught that is professional football.

Get ready for some injuries.

It’s time for the owners and retirees who are holding this whole process back to bend a little. I realize the retirees are getting screwed a bit, but how much are they hurting the game and the current players if the lockout doesn’t end in a timely fashion? If the season is shortened, and the preseason is taken away, you can bet that the game of football will be changed for the worse. You’ll likely see Free Agents getting screwed all the way from here to Timbuktu, and new drafted players either getting cut, or getting seriously injured on the field

You all know it, the NFL is not the same as college football. It just isn’t. The players are bigger and faster, and the hits are harder. Remember Rashard breaking his shoulder to a Ray Lewis hit? Yeah, and he had a preseason that year. Remember when the Steelers broke Ricky Williams’ collar bone after he came back to the NFL from the CFL? Yeah, that’s what it’s like. Even Ricky, a player who had excelled in the NFL in previous years, wasn’t ready to play in the NFL. Do we really expect that these young players will be able to succeed in this kind of environment? Do you really think Cam Newton could be the starter this season after not being able to learn the playbook during the Summer and preseason? If so, you’re dreaming.

This league isn’t a joke. The preseason and off-season workouts need to be taken seriously or we’re going to have a rough road to the 2012 Super Bowl. Newly drafted players who might not make the cut, like the Steelers’ Baron Batch, could end up being great players in the NFL. With a shortened season, he could be cut due to the disadvantage of a late playbook and no preseason. Peyton Manning went on record to say that pro-bowl center Jeff Saturday never would have made it in the NFL without the pre-season. How many great players will we lose this season just because the owners and players want a couple more bucks?

All this, and who are the people that really lose? The fans.

That’s right, it’s the fans who lose. We’re the ones that make this whole thing churn and if they lose us, they lose all that revenue that they are fighting over. So what will it take to lose the fans? An 8 game season? I mean, I would watch, but how many other people would watch a season where a team that is 4-4 could make it in to the playoffs and win the whole thing? This could hurt the NFL a lot worse than they are preparing for. Just look at how long it has taken the NBA and Baseball to recover (baseball still has not recovered), and now the NBA is back in a lockout! This is just getting ridiculous.

So, to all the retirees making a stink, and all the owners holding their ground, it’s time to make a deal. Get this thing wrapped up so we can get the players back in their workout rooms and back on the field.

I leave you with this thought: The final Steelers pick in the draft was RB Baron Batch. Baron is something special in a lot of ways. He is a brilliant writer and photographer, and a budding philosopher even, and if the Steelers decide he’s not ready once the lockout is done, the NFL could lose him forever. He could become some great writer or photographer and we might never see him again. That could be great for our culture, and if you know me, you know that I’m totally for the art side of things. But…what if he’s something special on the field. Someone great? What if he is another Walter Payton? Will we let poor timing keep him off the field? I realize that it is a long-shot, but it’s possible isn’t it? I often wonder how many Beethovens and Mozarts we have lost in music just because their parents didn’t want them to be musicians.  Batch (or other newly drafted players) could be our very own Mozart, or Miles Davis on the field. Unfortunately, their futures lie in the hands of the owners, most of whom couldn’t care less about football.

All they want is money.



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