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Sunday, March 13, 2011
Labor pains: NFL situation reminds me of 1982


Reality check.

Now that a work stoppage -- call it a strike, call it a lockout, what does it really matter to the rest of us? -- has switched the NFL train onto a track that goes nowhere, we begin to realize what it means.

Especially what it means to the "players," who are not actually players right now. What they are is out of work.

Reminds me of the 1982 NFL work stoppage that lasted 57 days, reducing the 16-game schedule to a nine-game schedule. Are we ready for that, gang? Are the players ready for that?

Back then I was covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and was actually present when the players held a team meeting on the first day of the lockout so that their leaders could explain exactly what was going on to everyone in the room. That detailed explanation took nearly as hour before it was asked if anyone had a question that had not been answered.

Defensive end Booker Reese raised his hand.

"Yes, Booker? What's your question?"

"Well, if the owners have locked us out of One Buc Place, where to we go to pick up our paychecks?"