The lockout is over, NFL thoughts

Way back on November 5, I wrote in a blog post here on that NHL owners and players still had a couple of months to reach an agreement to save the 2013 season. Lo and behold, exactly two months later, they announced the framework of an agreement that will allow for a 48 or 50 game season.

When we asked for texters in The Fast Lane last Friday to tell us whether or not they’d come back, 92% said they would. Will there be hard feelings? Sure, because hockey fans love their sport and it was taken away from them for three and a half months. The league, and every franchise, should be in major kiss-up mode. But if the Blues are playing in the third round of the playoffs in May, nobody is going to remember a lockout.

The fact that we expect the Blues to be a great team helps, too. I didn’t want to see the young nucleus of David Perron, T.J. Oshie, David Backes, Patrik Berglund, Alex Pietrangelo, Jaden Schwartz, Vladamir Tarasenko and Jaroslav Halak miss whole year. There’s a finite shelf life for teams…as we saw with the Greatest Show on Turf Rams…and to have one of the Blues’ seasons wasted would have been a crime.

As we saw in 1995, the 48 game season was a sprint. It was fast, high-flying, high effort hockey every night. We should see the same thing this season. Fans should be able to put the lockout behind them quickly. Whether league business partners and other sponsors will be able to is another matter. But, at least we have our hockey…

A couple of notes on the NFL’s wildcard weekend…

-Yes, Mike Shanahan should have taken Robert Griffin III out of the Redskins game against Seattle, and for multiple reasons. Most immediate was that RGIII couldn’t play. He couldn’t run after tweaking his knee right before his second touchdown pass, and the pain in his left knee caused his passes to float. The team actually had a better chance to win if Kirk Cousins played. A player is always going to say he’s fine, so a veteran coach like Shanahan has to take a stand and give his team its best chance to win.

Beyond that, the haul the Redskins gave up to the Rams for Griffin tells us what value they place on him. He’s their future, and Shanahan was gambling a part of that future by letting him play. If he has a torn ACL, there’s only been one Adrian Peterson comeback. If the ‘Skins lose Griffin for part of next season, it’s on Shanahan’s shoulders, not RGIII’s.

-The injuries to Griffin and Christian Ponder are just another reason I would never gamble on sports. How can you predict that stuff?

-Of the final eight teams in the NFL this season, the Rams played six games against them (two each vs. San Francisco and Seattle, plus games against Green Bay and New England), and went 2-3-1. In real terms, three of the games were at home, and three were on the road. That’s pretty impressive.

-We got another small example of Rams coach Jeff Fisher’s attention to detail in an ESPN NFL Countdown feature Sunday about Ray Lewis. The feature was about Lewis’ introductory dance before Ravens games at M&T Bank Stadium. Players talked about how inspiring the dance was for Baltimore players, and sometimes how intimidating it could be for opponents. Former Titan and Raven Derrick Mason said in the piece that Fisher used to tell his players to go to the other side of the field and avoid the Ravens introductions. That makes great sense. Why subject your players to that? Let the Ravens and their fans get fired up, but don’t have your team deal with the spectacle. Fisher’s Titans were 4-4 at Baltimore against Lewis teams, and that’s a great mark relative to the Ravens home record during that time.

-With Kansas City’s hiring of Andy Reid, Missouri has far and away the two best coaching mustaches in the NFL. Jay Nixon should grow a ‘stache for the Governor’s Cup game.