Finally … something to write about besides the lockout, millionaires vs. billionaires, the compiling of never-ending lists and whether the players or the owners would stick their feet in their mouths first.
Now that the lockout is history and we won’t have to worry about labor strife for the next 7-10 years, it’s time to reflect on what labor harmony will mean to the fans of the NFL.
First of all, it will mean football every Sunday, Monday and many Thursdays … for the next 10 years! Take that NBA!
It will mean brats, chips, sauerkraut, mustard and a spot on the couch with friends and family.
It will mean a decade of “we’re better than you again this season” taunts to all your Vikings, Bears and Lions friends.
It will mean we’ll never have to worry about Brett Favre coming back … well, maybe not …
It will mean the ability of the Packers to work on the terms on lifetime contracts with star players like Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews.
Not having to worry about the lockout and whether there will actually be football means that it’s time for the Green Bay Packers to start the planning and implementation of a repeat as Super Bowl champions. But to get to that point, there is much to do.
It means watching as the running game is scrutinized throughout training camp. Who will come out as the starting backfield?
Will the starting running back be last year’s rookie phenom James Starks or will it be Ryan Grant. If so, will Starks and rookie Alex Green be utilized in combination with Grant or in third down situations.
The start of the season means a hectic free agency period in which the Packers may actually participate this year. I believe Ted Thompson will break the mold this year and either sign at least a couple of those headed to the market or actually go out and sign a player who could step in and either start or add depth to an already deep squad.
It means watching the further development of backup quarterback Matt Flynn – will he actually be trade bait or will Thompson and McCarthy keep him on the roster? No doubt they will. And with the new rule that allows third string quarterbacks to be active on game day, we should also be watching the development of Graham Harrell … he could be a good one.
It means Lambeau Field filled once again on Sundays, Mondays and of course Thursdays!
It means hoisting the Super Bowl XLV championship flag above the stadium amid the roar of 70,000 fans.
It means hosting the first game of the 2011 season against the 2010 Super Bowl winner New Orleans Saints. What a game that will be.
It means looking forward to sacking Jay Cutler, blocking Jared Allen, competing with a much improved Detroit Lions squad and playing teams from the AFC West this season.
It means watching a defense throw new wrinkles at offenses and watching the continued rise of Clay Matthews. It also means seeing a defensive backfield with Tramon Williams, Charles Woodson and Nick Collins dominate receiving corps. It means seeing how Desmond Bishop and Sam Shields fit in this season.
It means listening and watching when the team is announced as “Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers!”
It means watching what could be Donald Driver’s final season and hoping he stays a starter, stays healthy and continues to break records.
It means watching several players try to come back from major injuries last year with the hope the majority play major roles, especially Ryan Grant and Jermichael Finley.
It means having the opportunity to stand on the sidelines with camera in hand taking it all in.
If last season was magical … this season will be dramatic … no doubt one for the ages.