Take your final look at Ron Burgundy and Brian Fantana. Lockout Watch 2011! is over. The players have unanimously ratified the collective bargaining agreement, setting things up for a joyous press conference involving Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith. Football will be back tomorrow, with facilities turning the lights on and the trade market opening at 10:00 a.m. ET.
The always-disruptive lawyers tried and succeeded at continually raining on a multitude of planned parades, but Goodell and Smith were too strong in the end. Both took beatings publicly on multiple occasions during this messy process, but they were, fittingly, the men who saved football. They forced themselves to meet for dinners and to work one-on-one late into many nights. Over the past week, the commish and the labor leader worked tirelessly to bring their constituents together.
We’ve been very critical of Smith over the last five months, but kudos to him for getting over his ego and working through his stubbornness. Goodell tried too hard to strong-arm the players early, but he ultimately realized there was too much to lose and forged a positive working relationship with his labor enemy.
It’s encouraging that Goodell and Smith have established what appears to be a very healthy business relationship (and maybe even a friendship) as of late, but with no opt-out clauses in the new deal it’s also probably irrelevant. This was a painful stretch, but it might have been necessary. Now, we’ve lost just one preseason game and are guaranteed labor peace for the next 10 years.