The NFL lockout is over, and if you're like me you feel like autumn just got a guaranteed contract.
With this new collective bargaining agreement, we are now guaranteed NFL football not only this season but for the next nine seasons after that. That means this ridiculous dance of lawyers and owners up and down various courthouse steps and through expensive hotel lobbies is almost over.
That means autumn has its mojo back.
That means we'll soon be back to the highlights that made us all fall in love with the NFL in the first place. No more suits and ties. Lots of jersey numbers and fantastic catches and juking runs. It sounds like the Panthers will be reporting to training camp in Spartanburg on Friday, just as originally planned.
Free agency is also about to start, and that will be wild. According to ESPN.com's rankings by John Clayton, two of the top 10 most-wanted free agents played for Carolina in 2010 -- No.3 Charles Johnson (DE had 11.5 sacks in 2010) and No.6 RB DeAngelo Williams.
The Panthers want to keep both badly, but there will surely be other suitors. (Carolina used its franchise tag on center Ryan Kalil, who also needs a new contract but won't be going anywhere because of that tag. I thought they should have used it on Johnson because he plays such an important position, but that point is moot if the Panthers manage to re-sign all 3 as they would like to.
We all could have made it through a season without the NFL, of course. There are many more important things in life. But the world would have seemed grayer, and many of us, including me, would have been grumpier.
There was no sense in this dragging into the season. The local result now is that this will be the second-most anticipated training camp in Carolina Panther history, trailing only the one in 1995 when the team was brand new. (In case you've wondered where I've been and why I haven't been writing, incidentally, I just came off vacation today in time to see the end of this lockout. Good timing, huh?)
I can't wait, and I bet you can't either.
10 months ago