Blog & Tackle: Back to football, finally

July 25, 2011 | Chris Pika

It only took 132 days to reach the day that everyone affiliated with the NFL was hoping for, the resumption of football after a prolonged lockout that featured lawyers, accountants and negotiators instead of players, coaches and general managers.

Sometime later today, an announcement (should be a simultaneous Tweet by the NFL and NFLPA) announcing the end of the lockout will put into motion a chaotic series of events that be will unlike anything ever seen in league history, including the potential start of free agency Monday afternoon, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter.

A year ago, the NFL’s 2010 Kickoff guide that is filled with notes and quick-hit stories distributed to the media was titled “Back to Football.” The league, which doesn’t miss much in PR opportunities, should have held that slogan until this year.

It will be football in overdrive as five months of transactions will be condensed into a little over a week. The free-agent period will be dizzying, once the two sides finally figure out how the timing of when the new league year actually begins.

We’ll find out how the horse-trading on the final items shakes out (including any opt-out language, discipline procedures, new drug testing protocols, etc.). There will be a lot of “who won?” and “who lost?” from media once all of the terms are made public.

Here is the 25-page PDF summary pending agreement NFLPA reviewed with player reps Wednesday, pre-owners `final’ document (via ESPN on Friday, and forwarded to BlogAndTackle.net by Howard Balzer (@HBalzer721 on Twitter) - Obviously, some of this changed over the weekend, but good snapshot of where sides were late last week : NFLPA Summary 7-22-11

Finally, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith will stand together at a podium, and unlike last week’s NFL press conference with glum faces among owners, this one will have smiles, weary but with a sense of accomplishment.

The other people with smiles are ones you don’t see on your TV. The everyday employees of clubs and the league office that reduced salaries or gave furloughs should see their money restored now that a full season will be played. They were all unnecessarily caught in the middle of the labor war, as employees in the NBA are finding out now during their own lockout.

Yes, football is back, and there is so much to do and digest. Players, agents and GMs will never work so hard as they will once the new CBA is in force. It will be fast and furious, and those who are the most prepared and have digested the new rules will succeed, whether it is a GM will a solid battle plan, an agent who has strong working relationships with those GMs or players who find the right team to sign with thanks to their agent and a cooperative GM.

All are intertwined in this intricate dance that will look more like a quick step than a slow waltz once the doors are opened. The media can go back to covering the on-field stories, instead of being part lawyers, accountants and court reporters during this Summer of Lockout.

Here is how the national media sees the weekend’s developments & when/how the NFL will resume business:
With end of NFL lockout at hand, it’s time to focus on football again (Don Banks, SI.com; 7/24/11)
Making sense of the new CBA and how it will affect the game (Peter King, SI.com; 7/25/11)
Path to NFL normalcy begins with players’ board approving deal (Michael McCann; SI.com; 7/24/11)
NFL unlocked? Inside election day (Andrew Brandt, NationalFootballPost.com; 7/25/11)
Report: Team facilities to open as early as Tuesday (Brad Biggs, NationalFootballPost.com; 7/25/11)
Yes! Knucklehead season almost over (Gene Wojciechowski, ESPN.com; 7/25/11)
Sources: Deal to end lockout reached (Adam Schefter, ESPN.com; 7/25/11)
2011 free agency: It’s going to be wild (John Clayton, ESPN.com; 7/25/11)
But what about after the NFLPA vote? (AJ Perez, FOXSports.com; 7/25/11)
Lockout Judgements: Winners, losers, turning points (Clark Judge, CBSSports.com; 7/25/11)
Players, owners finally get done what politicians cannot (Mike Freeman, CBSSports.com; 7/25/11)
Advantage: Players (Pete Prisco, CBSSports.com; 7/25/11)
Latest timeline confirms that free agency could start Tuesday (Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk.com; 7/25/11)
NFL players, you are now free to move about the league (Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times; 7/25/11)
DeMaurice Smith proves more than capable standing up to owners (David Steele, SportingNews.com; 7/25/11)
Agreement in place: Players will vote once document is done (Albert Breer, NFL.com; 7/25/11)
Teams, agents have major concerns for once doors open (Steve Wyche, NFL.com; 7/25/11)

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