On Monday morning, the good news started pouring in for fans of football in America. The lockout which had threatened America's (true, modern) pastime was finally finished. The focus now turns to the actual start of the season, currently slated for September 8-12.
When the new football season begins, there will be a couple important differences, but most of them will be invisible. When it comes to the changes that either side wanted that were going to be physical manifestations, there was compromise instead of hard-line posturing - at least at this point. The schedule will remain a 16-game affair - for now. Owners will be getting more money than they were previously. Practices will change, and there is already grumbling from those who are attached to the old schedule.
These differences, however, are inevitable when two sides are fighting for every inch. All told, in the process of negotiation, the NFL was officially locked out for more than 4 months, the longest lockout in NFL history. However, the good news is that no official games were lost to the labor dispute, save an exhibition game which had been scheduled for August 7.
A great summary of the winners and losers of the draft has been written up at ESPN. In contrast to one of those last points, though, I'd defy anyone to go out and talk to a football fan. There is a reason that this was the top story on ESPN for the last three days, and why it continues to get mention on CNN. In times like these, when people are looking toward August 2 as a potential for the United States government defaulting on its debt, Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, took the time to point out that if football can get a deal done, certainly the bureaucrats in Washington should be able to follow suit; especially when the matter is of such increased gravity. For those who prefer their sports without politics, there's a handy comparison, too: the NFL lockout being resolved in a timely fashion gives hope to the fans of the NBA, which is similarly engaged in a lockout currently.
At the end of the day, though, despite lists of winners and losers and total amount of time lost to this lockout, the easiest proof is in the pudding. Next time you're out and about, ask someone, whether it's at a bar, at work, or even just at a stoplight. Ask a stranger, "Hey, how do you feel that the NFL lockout is over?" Chances are, they'll gripe a bit. They'll mention how it was millionaires fighting with billionaires. And they'll say how ridiculous it was to have to slog through the news. But, at the end of that conversation, most people, as Americans who love football above all others, will smile and say, "Hey, I'm just glad it's back."