It is now 2013, nearly two years removed from the NFL lockout of 2011. America will not soon forget those months, when what we once took for granted was suddenly denied us. Crowds marched. Cities burned. People went mad.
The historical record of these months is somewhat incomplete, as most of us were rendered too traumatized to recall the crisis. We can only look to the writings and other documents we left behind.
What follows is a series of letters, diary entries, recorded conversations, and other documents that remain from August 2011 to January 2012. Different people may walk away from this archive with different lessons, but there is one truth we must all agree upon: the NFL must never, ever institute another lockout.
Reader discretion is advised, as the gathered documents illustrate a steadily increasing descent into madness.
Everyone keeps talking about a lockout. Don’t know what that’s all about, and I don’t care either. Know what I care about? The Colts. They’re going to surprise a lot of people -- that is, they would surprise people if we all weren’t so used to the Colts winning. Yeah, we only have one championship to show for it, but we won 12 games in 2003. We won 12 games in 2010. And we won at least 12 games in every season in between. Peyton can throw it and Pierre can catch it. Addai and Dallas are back to full health again.
I’ve got to make it to a game this year. Figure I’ll make it to Indy sometime in November, after my sister’s kid arrives. Bruce was saying they have a Hard Rock Cafe in Indianapolis now. On the walls, they have a bunch of cool rock and roll memorabilia to check out -- I’m a hopeless "metal-head," as the wife likes to call me! There’s also this great little indie joint there called Chipotle. The burritos there are just about as big as your frickin’ head! Between that and the Indy 500, there’s all kinds of wild stuff in that town.
Back to these Colts, though. They’re gonna show us all a thing or two. The Super Bowl is in Indianapolis this year. Let’s bring home the Lombardi, boys!
P.S. Thinking about bringing a sign when I go to the game. If it says, "Bring Home The ‘Bardi," do you think people will get it? Bruce wanted to make one that said, "Colts Super Bowl" so that it’s sort of an acronym for "CBS," but you’d kind of have to situate the words so that it makes sense, and I think "Colts Super Bowl" is kinda boring for a sign anyway. Bruce made a mock-up of what he wants the sign to look like. I dunno.
The season started at about this time last year and I still can’t find the Falcons schedule ANYWHERE. Should play today.
I looked around on all the websites and all they talk about is a lockout. I don’t give a flip about the lockout! This is the worst day ever
I mean second worst day ever
- Twitter posts, Sarah McKinley, Woodstock, Georgia
Sunday, September 11, 2011, 9:53 a.m.
This morning, I drove to the studio. It was the morning that I imagine everyone experiences from time to time: you find yourself at your desk, and you know how you got there, but you don't remember how you got there, as though you were operating on autopilot. I sat and shuffled the sheets in front of me.
They were blank. All of them. I had this nightmare once when i was eleven years old, a consequence of falling asleep before completing a homework assignment. This was not a dream. I looked up at Dan and saw his eyes, his eyes were darting about aimlessly, his mouth agape. Boomer stared at his hands. James stared at me, then at the producer, who was talking on his phone and throwing up his arm in futile frustration.
I was the one to speak first. "I think there is no football."
"Is it Sunday?" Dan asked. "Yes, it is," I replied. Boomer interrupted. "It is Sunday. Weather is cold, there is football."
"Yes!" James stood up. "Weather is cold!" He looked around for a window to gesture toward; there were none. "The weather is cold and it's Sunday. There is football."
Boomer and Dan turned to James and grinned. "No, listen to me," I said. "I think it's the lockout that people were talking about. I think that means no football." Boomer's face changed, as though his new puppy had bitten him.
And then we were on air. James had left his seat to pace behind the camera, hands in his pockets. I looked again toward Dan and Boomer. They looked at me with wide, helpless eyes. I turned to the camera, and I could see them all, each one of them, sitting behind a plate of fries at the bar, leaning forward on their couches with children on their laps. I remember seeing an old man in his recliner, leaning to drop his remote control on the end table, and as he did he looked up at me, and we both froze. I opened my mouth, and I am not sure of what was said.
You adopt a kitten and you immediately love him, and he loves you. He brushes past your leg, he meows to say hello when he enters the room, he falls asleep in your lap. One day he is grown and you tisk at him, and he stares at you for a moment before stretching and creeping to the guest room, where the lamp is off and the bed is made.
-- Diary entry, Shannon Sharpe, New York, New York
Monday, September 12, 2011, 1:43 a.m.
Where is football. Where is football. What is football. Where is football. How is football? Where is football? Where is football? Where is football. Where is fortball. Whrer is frotball. Where iss ffotballnknjsdkvb cxb k,./
-- Email sent to firstname.lastname@example.org (invalid address), Brian O'Connor, Trenton, New Jersey
Sunday, September 18, 2011, 5:15 p.m.
Toilet paper (no big rolls, won't fit in downstairs holder thing)
AA batteries (Xbox controllers use 2 each)
-- Shopping list, Adrian Peterson, Eden Prairie, Minnesota
Sunday, September 25, 2011, 1:07 p.m.
In September of 2011 there was a lockout, meaning that the owners didn't literally lock the players out but they basically did. This caused there to be no NFL football season. Many would say the situation is idiotic.
On Tuesday night (last night) they interviewed Drew Brees on ESPN. He said that him and all the other players want to get back on the field and play football and that he hopes that everything gets sorted out. The stupid part is that the stadiums are just sitting there and nobody's using them. The players should just play anyway, the NFL couldn't do anything about it. They could make money by selling stuff like T-shirts, like they normally do. (Note: I have a Donovan McNabb shirt.)
They could also build windmills in the stadium that make electricity. That way they wouldn't have to pay any electric bills. In conclusion, the NFL lockout doesn't make any sense and they could fix it if everyone wasn't millionaires.
P.S. Also if the NFL came back, the riots would probably stop. I can't believe they blew up the Liberty Bell. It was a legendary monument in history.
-- Essay, Chad Foreman, age 11, Grand Forks, North Dakota
Wednesday, October 5, 2011, 4:49 p.m.
-- SB Nation's front page
Sunday, October 9, 2011, 3:53 p.m.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL VIEWING PROTOCOLS
IMPORTANT -- DO NOT REMOVE
- If a player falls to the ground, he's down, regardless of whether a defender has touched him.
- The clock is stopped for every first down.
- The overtime rules are actually fair.
- Almost everybody on the field is bad at football.
- A college football team's season is ruined if:
1. the team loses to a bad team one time
2. someone gave the quarterback a motorcycle for a present
3. someone gave the former quarterback a motorcycle for a present four years ago
4. the team had a not-very-good season last year and gets a bad schedule this year as a result
5. literally nobody on the team's sideline understands clock management (this is often the case for some reason)
- Half the games are a match-up between a good team and a really really bad team that I have never heard of. Nobody can offer a satisfactory explanation for this.
- Instead of playoffs, everything is fed into some sort of algorithm and the teams play each other in games that are called "bowls." Some teams are BCS teams and some are not, for no real reason.
- Basically, college football is like the NFL if the NFL was full of silly counterproductive rules that frustrate everybody because it's run by a bunch of weirdos.
- Pretty much all the good teams wear blue and orange uniforms.
-- Note taped on all four sides to a bureau next to the television, President Barack Obama, Washington, D.C.
Saturday, October 15, 2011
Redwood City, CA -- On Tuesday, after nearly three months of delays, Electronic Arts officially released "Madden NFL 12," the 23rd installment of the best-selling video game series.
The release is perceived by industry experts to be a last-resort effort to prevent an annual fiscal deficit. Since the lockout, it is estimated that the NFL has lost over $2.5 billion in revenue, much of which comes from official licensing of video games and other media. Says one industry executive, the NFL, like the NFLPA, is now demanding "a billion trillion dollars" in official negotiations, and many would-be licensees, such as Electronic Arts, have opted not to acquire licenses.
In light of recent data suggesting unusually low sales, the rosters of "Madden NFL 12" consist of fabricated names along with a smattering of retired NFL players who authorized the use of their likenesses for reasonable fees. For example, in "Madden NFL 12," gamers can play as the New York Jorts. With quarterback Mike Gomez, cornerback Darrell Reebok, and the running back tandem of Bam Morris and Trung Canidate, players can lead their team to the Football Bowl.
-- Associated Press story
Tuesday, November 7, 2011
Eli "Hot Rod" Manning sniff't the November airs for sign's of distress. Every city needs a hero, and as though a hero store that was out of heroes, Gotham City was in need of a hero.
Suddenly: Bedlam. The shrieks of a thousand crying childs, emanating from Death Street. (It isn't actually called Death Street; however; metaphor.) Hot Rod Manning got in his Hot Rod and Hit The Gas. His tires produced a Literal plum of smoke as he careened toward the scene of the crime.
Hot Rod Manning turn't the corner and before him stood his nemesis, Dr. David Octopus. Dr. David Octopus was once a peacefull Scientist, mild of manners, who now had eight arms as the result of Science Gone Wrong.
"I have the whole orphanage building jettisoned with T.N.T. explosives. One false move, Hot Rod, and I'll blow this orphanage to Kingdom Kong." Hot Rod Manning looked a-sky and glimpsed Bakers Dozens of children, flailing there arms out the orphanage window's.
Hot Rod Manning was full of wistful. "Score's of childs meek and mild needn't suffer the Wrath of a world in Chaos," he wisted. "Pardon me while I burst into flames. I've had enough of the world, and its peoples' mindless games."
Hot Rot Manning lounged toward Dr. Octopus with Fatal Fury. His Katana blades moved like Jazz, the swish and swash of the blades dancing threw the air like Miles Coltrain.
Swish. Swoosh. Bang. Death. The Microcosm of humanity in one fell swoop. Dr. Octopus lay helpless on the ground in a Puddle of Bludd. He spoke his final words. "Can you take it all away, can you take it all away, when you shoved it in my face, can you take it all away."
Hot Rod then glimps'd again. All was well. The orphanage children went back to playing there Segas and munching there Toaster Strudels. Hot Rod clambered into his Hot Rod and sped off into the footloose and fancy free nite of the Big City.
- Excerpt from first draft of untitled novel, Eli Manning, New York, New York
Thursday, November 16, 2011
-- Gameplay demonstration, unauthorized "Madden 12" iPhone app (projected to out-sell Madden NFL 12)
Released Tuesday, November 21, 2011
Ryan: hey, so i have an idea for a new sport
Ryan: well, we don't know when the NFL is coming back. it might never come back
college football is fine for some people
but some people would rather hit themselves in the wiener with a frying pan before watching college fb
Ryan: so i think we need a new sport. you ever play chinese checkers?
Tom: Nope. What's that?
Ryan: ok well
there are six sides to start from. six people can play. you just have to get to the other side of the hexagonal board
there should be that for football
Tom: What do you mean?
Ryan: here i drew it up
Ryan: did you get it?
Tom: What the hell is this
Ryan: OK so basically
there are 8 teams playing at the same time
in a sense it's just like normal football. you have to score at the end zone directly across from you
the rules are basically the same
but the thing is, all the fields intersect in the center
if all teams played like normal it would be total chaos in the middle of the field because like 4 teams would be playing there at any given time
and that's where diplomacy and alliances come into play
Ryan: OK, let's say you're playing on the field with yellow end zones
you drive to the middle of the field at the, and find that the blue teams are already there
one of the blue teams can sort of help you out and incidentally try to disrupt your opponent
you might decide to partner up because you have a mutual enemy in the standings or something
Tom: What's that dot in the middle?
Ryan: that's the quarterback's tower. it's about 40 feet tall
if you get to the middle of the field you can climb the tower, take your time and just bomb it into the end zone if you so choose
but the thing is that all 8 teams want control of the tower for this reason, so you might have to kick and punch your way up the ladder
it's like, have you ever seen a ladder match in pro wrestling
Tom: This is a joke, right
you don't think it's good?
Tom: You need to get some sleep or something, dude
This is the weirdest thing I've ever seen. I don't really know what to say
Ryan: i put a lot of thought into this
Tom: How long has it been since you slept?
Ryan: like 40 hours i think. took me forever to figure out which colors to make the end zones
Tom: Listen, man. The NFL is coming back.
Ryan: why do you think that
who told you
what do you know
football's been gone for like 3 months now
who knows if it'll ever come back
we have to do something
Tom: This isn't healthy. You're going insane.
it's just that the NFL has sort of been a compass for my body clock for most of my life
if it's a chilly sunday, the rams are playing
i can't even sleep anymore, it's impossible
Tom is no longer online.
what do you think sam bradford is doing right now
Tom is no longer online.
whatever, screw you tom
Tom is no longer online.
-- Instant message conversation between Tom Meadows, Waukegan, Illinois, and Ryan Mendoza, Decatur, Illinois
Sunday, December 18, 2011, 1:32 p.m.
We're gonna have Mad Men Night at my place tonight. BYOB, we're grilling out at about 6. I know Season 5 has been weird. Why did they cast Darrell from The Office as Martin Luther King? What about the episode where Don gets nervous about his secret past again and gets drunk and throws up everywhere? What was up with that
Oh well, we'll tough through it. Hopefully we'll be locked out next year too and Season 6 will be better :)
P.S. I saw on his Facebook page that Josh's house was destroyed in the Cleveland riots and I guess the whole city is subsisting on rats now. Anyone talk to him lately? Tell him to make some of his world-famous guacamole and get his ass over here!
- Facebook event page, Sam Bradford, St. Louis, Missouri
Sunday, December 18, 2011, 1:32 p.m.
(Roger Goodell) hey
(DeMaurice Smith) sup
(Roger Goodell) nm u
(DeMaurice Smith) nm
(Roger Goodell) football?
(DeMaurice Smith) what time
(Roger Goodell) probly tomorrow
(DeMaurice Smith) what about lockout
(Roger Goodell) let's not do the lockout
(DeMaurice Smith) k
(Roger Goodell) we'll just pay you either more or less money, whichever u want
(DeMaurice Smith) more money i guess
(Roger Goodell) k
(DeMaurice Smith) what you got goin on tonight
(Roger Goodell) probably goin to the bar
(DeMaurice Smith) what time
(Roger Goodell) 730?
(DeMaurice Smith) ok cool might be there
(Roger Goodell) cool laterz de
(DeMaurice Smith) bye
-- Text messages sent between NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith, January 13, 2012, 4:34 p.m.
FOOTBALL HAS RETURNED
FOR MANY A MONTH I STUMBLED THROUGH BLINDNESS, SICKENED BY MALAISE, ONLY NOW TO BE REBORN IN THE ICY WATERS OF JANUARY
LET'S GO PACKERS
NEVER AGAIN SHALL YOU LEAVE ME, YOU BEAUTIFUL WRETCHES
I TRIED TO GET INTO HOCKEY BUT THE PUCK JUST MOVES REALLY FAST
THE RIOTS CLAIMED FOUR OF MY FINGERS
THE SUN HAS RISEN AND SET MANY A TIME, BUT THE NFL IS THE TIMEKEEPER OF THE UNIVERSE, TIME HAS STOPPED AND STARTED AGAIN, PRAISE FOOTBALL
I'M GLAD ALL THE STUFF WORKED OUT WITH THE LOCKOUT OR WHATEVER
-- Signs spotted in Lambeau Field, the 2011 NFL Season Opener
January 15, 2012, 1:23 p.m.
Detroit Lions Nation,
What a season! For the first time in our history, the Detroit Lions are the Super Bowl champions. Decades of hardship and disappointment are over for this determined bunch of Lions that nobody saw coming.
Some may scoff at what we've achieved this season. Yes, due to the lockout, the regular season was canceled in favor of a 32-seed playoff format. But you know what? We had the same chance everyone else did. After an impressive 12-10 win over the Panthers, we headed to Kansas City and beat the Chiefs 12-9. Then we hosted the Jaguars and beat them 12-6. After a gritty 12-4 win over the Browns, we met the Texans, and in a performance for the ages, we held on for a 12-11 win.
I'm proud to announce that our season MVP is kicker Alex Henery, our fifth-round pick in the 2011 Draft who developed an ability to kick 75-yard field goals with reasonable accuracy. Your cleats from the Super Bowl are headed to Canton, Alex!
Let's go get them again next year, and show them how the NEW AND IMPROVED Lions can play in a regular-season format!
William Clay Ford, Sr.
-- Open letter, Lions president William Clay Ford, Sr.
Monday, January 30, 2012, 9:13 a.m.
Something is here that was missing before. It feels as though I now have a post on which to hang my hat. And so do we all.
On those first empty Sundays of the lockout, I simply stayed in bed all day, without purpose, without function, and as it began to appear as though the NFL would never return, I stared out the window, watching the smoke billow from one of the burning buildings. Over time I forsook football forever, I suppose as an amputee might forsake his right-handedness, and I made an attempt to find purpose. I learned Russian so that I may read Tolstoy in his native tongue. I learned to mend clothing and prepare seviche. These Sundays were soon swallowed up in projects of self-betterment, the sort that we all figured we would engage in were it not for the NFL.
And then it returned, and once again I dispose of all those silly contrived distractions to witness the beautiful, violent, blistering, frantic spectacle that I once again realized I was born to behold.
Andre Johnson! Best running b... best wide receiver in the NFL. Chug chug chug! Who that? It's Andre Johnson! You got Matt Schaub, you got Andre Johnson, you got something special. You get a bunch of Reggie Whites out there you still can't stop 'em! My pick for the Super Bowl is the Eagles. Andre Johnson. Hooooo!
-- Diary entry, Shannon Sharpe, New York, New York
Monday, January 30, 2012, 10:16 p.m.