The NFL bucked conventional wisdom, and in doing so, gave football fans and sports media something else to talk about when it desperately needed to.
Mike Florio, the NFL hall monitor who prides himself on knowing what is best for everyone else, was critical of the National Football League for wanting to start free agency, and subsequently the league season, on time. While other sports leagues, the NBA, NHL, NCAA, plus numerous others around the world were shutting down or suspending their respective seasons for credible reasons, commissioner Roger Goodell took a different approach and kept football open for business.
Thank goodness for independent thought. While there is plenty in Goodell’s resume to be disappointed with, even angry about, sticking to the plan and allowing free agency and the league season to begin should be a positive in a season where sports fans have been left in the dark.
Typically, March and April are about renewal. The sports world crowns champions in college basketball, spring training reminds us that baseball and summer are around the corner, and the NFL delivers franchise-changing decisions followed by a draft that has become an event unlike any other in sports. To their credit, the NFL stuck to their script.
Good for them, and good for the fans. While other sports made sound decisions about their respective products, the NFL did the same, while also adjusting the model to fit into our current circumstances. This is worth recognizing, as the league will go about the business of restructuring an NFL Draft that won’t be what spectators have grown accustomed to. For fans of the Cincinnati Bengals, it is a bittersweet time.
Or could it? It’s possible the draft becomes something much more intimate and team-specific. While no plans have been made public, the NFL will find a way to deliver the experience in a way that only the NFL can. For Bengals fans sitting on pins and needles waiting for Joe Burrow to have his name called, it’s a tough break, in that the anticipated glam show in Las Vegas is reduced to something much smaller.
Fans should get past that, especially those in Cincinnati. The NFL could have gone on hiatus but chose not to. Instead, this free agency period has delivered a bounty of players that could change the franchise moving forward. When paired with the arrival of Burrow, the sky may be the only limit.
The National Football League was smart. It stuck to its schedule and delivered the news to a thirsty sports world desperate for anything else to talk about. They were smart to not listen to the naysayers and instead found a way to make it work against the criticism.