I don’t know about you, dear readers, but for me, this offseason has brought a blissful absence from football. The Packers’ 13th world championship was so surprising, and so satisfying, I’ve been happy to let the prospect of the 2011 NFL season stay far away from the front of my mind. After the emotional grind that was the runup to the Super Bowl, I’ve been almost happy, in a way, to let the NFL lockout scrub OTAs, UFAs, undrafted free agents and minicamps from public conversation. I’m living in a state of suspended fanhood bliss, where the Vikings are in disarray, the Bears are in denial and the Packers are world champions.
But as the calendar turned to June, it hit me: My dream state could have a short shelf life. We’re now closer to the Packers’ scheduled Sept. 8 opener against the New Orleans Saints than we are to their win over their Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV. And while the lockout still has the league in limbo, that could give way to chaos at any time.
An ESPN report today said the players and owners held secret labor talks in Chicago, and on Friday, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments in the owner’s appeal of last month’s ruling in Minneapolis, where Judge Susan Richard Nelson gave the players an injunction, lifting the lockout for four day. However, a court panel issued a temporary stay of Nelson’s injunction on April 29, putting the lockout back in place. The same panel issued a permanent stay of injunction on May 17, and though an appeals decision isn’t expected to come down until July, most believe it will likely land in favor of the owners. If that happens, the players could have no choice but to make a deal; the NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora predicted earlier today the two sides would have an agreement in place by July or August.
So, Packers fans, that means we could be three months away from trying to do this whole thing again. We don’t know what the landscape of the league will look like, but we do know the Packers are as well-positioned as any team in the league to hoist the Lombardi Trophy in Indianapolis next year, whenever the Super Bowl happens. They’ve got a slew of players coming back from injured reserve, but the presence of Jermichael Finley alone makes me think they have a chance to be even better in 2011. And in the last 25 years in the NFL, there’s been a repeat champion about every five to seven years; the 49ers in 1988-89, the Cowboys in 1993-94, the Broncos in 1997-98 (ahem, holding) and the Patriots in 2003-04. If that ebb and flow holds up, we’re due for another repeat winner this year.
But a new season brings a whole new set of worries, though: contract squabbles, shoddy preseason performances, tough early opponents and late hits on Aaron Rodgers. Everything is perfect now, but it might not be very much longer.
We at Ol’ Bag of Donuts are going to continue to enjoy what I’m calling Victory Summer, and we’ll have another podcast in the near future solely dedicated to gushing about how great is to be world champions and comparing this title to other Packers championships. My suggestion to you, though, is to enjoy it while you can. Because we might not be too far away from starting it up all over again.