The NFL slammed the doors shut again last weekend. Padlocked its gates and told its players to go elsewhere to repair their broken bodies and find their own fields to prepare themselves for the next season of their most dangerous game.
The lockout has resumed, which means that players like Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Deon Butler, who broke his leg last season playing for owner Paul Allen, isn't welcome into the team's training facility.
The 2011 season is in jeopardy again because some of the richest people in the world think they need even more money.
I wonder if they ever think about the rest of us--the football fans who have had to make hard financial sacrifices to keep their jobs, or have lost their jobs and can't find another.
I don't get this lockout. I don't quite understand the level of insensitivity of the NFL owners. I don't see any pain and suffering on their parts. I don't see anything but yachts and helicopters, ranches and riches.
The net worth of the owners of the 32 NFL teams is around $40 billion. And they want more?
Of course, there are a lot of rich football players, too, but they're the guys taking all the risks.
They are the people who are suffering concussions at an alarming rate. They are the ones who, after their playing days are over, suffer from dementia, depression and many other life-threatening illnesses.
The average career of an NFL player is about three years. For every secure superstar, there are at least 20 players living from week to week, working their rears off just to stay in the league for one more game, one more month, one more season.
If this lockout meanders into July, some players will have to look for work outside the game. But do you think Seahawks owner Allen is pondering the idea of selling off one of his helicopters, or maybe a submarine, so he can make ends meet? You think any of these billionaires will suffer even the slightest hiccup in their daily routines?
The players will be doing all of the suffering.
I don't get this lockout. I find it hard to believe that any of the owners, who are blessed with the best TV deal this side of Jay Leno, are losing money. So why are the owners asking for something like a billion dollars in givebacks?
Usually, these post-draft days are some of the best times of the year. We get our first looks at the picks. Undrafted free agents come into minicamps hungry for jobs. Coaching staffs and general managers get their first looks at their revamped rosters.
It's springtime in the NFL.
But this May, the doors are locked. The practice fields are empty. And for the time being, the future of the 2011 season is being argued in the courts.
It seems to me that in tough economic times, people need their escapes more than ever. They need those small moments to look forward to so they can be lifted temporarily out of their gloom and their anxiety. For a lot of us, NFL Sundays are like little national holidays.
I believe a lot of people in this country need the NFL. It's a form of therapy.
When NFL commissioner Roger Goodell stepped to the podium on the first night of the draft Thursday, the fans inside Radio City Music Hall chanted, "We want football!"
We want to see who will be quarterbacking the Seahawks. We want to see how Matt Hasselbeck fares at Arizona, or Minnesota or San Francisco. We want to see if Green Bay can repeat.
We want to see Jake Locker's beginnings. We want to see if Mason Foster can become the kind of linebacker at Tampa Bay that David Hawthorne has become in Seattle. We want Deon Butler to get healthy, quickly.
I wish both sides would get back to the table. I wish the owners would realize how silly they sound asking the players for money. They're like so many Justin Biebers asking their parents for advances on their allowances.
I wish the NFL's billionaires would stop being greedy, stop playing games, so the doors can open and the rest of us can get excited about the dawning of another season.