Could you really imagine an autumn season without NFL football?
Luckily, we won’t have to worry about that, since the team owners and players agreed Monday to end the almost 4.5-month long, highly publicized lockout. The league, fans and local businesses that rely on football all rejoiced this week that the issue has been settled.
“This has been a long road for everyone involved,” said Kevin Mawae, NFL Players’ Association (NFLPA) president and former New York Jets center.
The owners ratified a new 10-year collective bargaining agreement, which the representatives of the NFLPA also accepted. This means that all NFL activities will resume this week.
As a result, a frantic schedule has been formulated so teams can prepare for training camp. Teams could sign draft picks and rookie free agents Tuesday, while some teams will open training camp Wednesday. Thursday marks the day in which teams can cut players, and free agents can sign new contracts Friday.
The New York Giants are scheduled to open training camp Friday at the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ, while the Jets will wait until Saturday before their training camp opens in Florham Park, NJ.
The players seem to be excited now that they will finally return to work.
“It was like Christmas night last night,” said Jets right guard Brandon Moore on Tuesday. “I couldn’t sleep.”
As excited as the players are that football is returning, Long Island restaurant and bar owners—who rely heavily on their Sunday NFL specials—are even more ecstatic.
“I’m so relieved,” said Mike Bieber, owner of Instant Replay Sports Bar & Grill in Huntington. “There’s a little pressure off. It saves a lot of my customers a lot of upset.”
Bieber said that his bar is “crazy during football season” and was a little worried that the lockout may affect his business. However, he was confident that the league would figure it out.
“I have ESPN on my phone so everyday I was looking at the news and seeing what’s going on,” said Bieber. “That would be a huge hit for us if we didn’t have football.”
Local fans are also thrilled that they’ll be able to watch football this fall.
“I’m thrilled football has returned,” Bobby Patronaggio, an avid Giants and Jets fan from Massapequa, told the Press. “For a while there, it didn’t look so promising.”
Though the lockout may turn away some long-time fans, Patronaggio said he would not change his Sunday ritual of watching (or even sometimes attending) both teams’ games with his family and friends.
“I’m definitely glad that the new agreement is for 10 years so that I won’t have to deal with this for a while,” said Patronaggio.
So while the question of whether there’d be football this fall lingered throughout the summer, a new, yet classic, question remains: Are you ready for some football?