For the last four months, ever since the players and owners stood up from their respective tables and went the paths of decertification, lawsuits, and locking the doors, it's been awful hard to talk about football. Like a giant family of children caught in the middle of a very loud, very public and very messy divorce, we the millions of fans were being asked to choose sides, when all we ever wanted was for them to shut up and get back together.
Now, finally, they have, and the player reps have a simple message of thanks for us.
But should either party apologize to the fans for holding the game hostage and threatening to blow it all up? A series of tweets between myself and Sports Illustrated's Peter King led to a pretty interesting discussion on that note.
The initial exchange
After officially signig the deal, Patriots owner Robert Kraft (who lost his wife Myra just days ago and received an outpouring of support from the players' side of the fence) went so far as to apologize to his team's fans for dragging them through this process. It was a classy move, and it led to a meme of discussion about whether that apology should be league-wide.
The venerable Mr. King took to Twitter to retort:
It's horsecrap to say NFL, players have to "make it up" to the fans. Make up what? They got the deal done 45 days before the season.
What exactly did the fans miss? Mini-camp coverage. The football world would have signed up for missing no real games.
Said the pipsqueak blogger in response:
@SI_PeterKing Yeah they got a deal done, but for four months no one has been able to have a positive conversation about football.
@SI_PeterKing The NFL built a year-round relationship with fans. To poison even a part of that with this crap should be apologized for.
Now maybe I'm taking the idea of a "relationship" between the league and its fans too far, but in my marriage of eleven years, after you fight you apologize, no matter what you were fighting about or how big, or how long it takes you to smooth things over. It's part of the process, and isn't a big deal, really.
But of course, there are those who refuse to apologize, who think it's weak to apologize. I've taken that route, too. And I can say from very personal experience that it does not end nearly as well. But hey, Mr. King has been married to the league for longer than I've been married period, he's been through bigger labor wars than this, and he's apparently fine with the tough guy approach.
RT @RamsHerd: The NFL built a year-round relationship with fans. To poison that should be apologized for ... Wah, wah, wah. Here's a tissue.
Now, when you get retweeted by someone with half a million followers, the door is wide open for that horde to chime in. And as you might expect, responses fell into two different camps. A sampling:
I'd love to hear your take. Does being the biggest game in the land mean never having to say you're sorry?
I will be using that quote from Peter King often this year.
random Rams fan: "Man, I really want us to win the NFC West."
me: "Wah, wah, wah. Here's a tissue."
or: "I don't think *insert draft pick here* is working out. We should have drafted *random late round draft pick who turns into solid NFL player*."
me:"Wah, wah, wah. Here's a tissue."