We don’t like to stray off topic, even when caught up in the rare sense of national unity and celebration that has arisen from news of the killing of the man who masterminded the 9/11 attacks. But there’s one thread connecting the death of Osama bin Laden and pro football.
With the NFL schedule carefully crafted to permit several weeks that are missed on the front end due to a lockout to be made up during bye weeks and/or by the tacking of extra weekends onto the back end of the regular season, the finality that has come from the completion of the protracted mission to capture or kill bin Laden makes it even more important that the NFL properly commemorate the 10th anniversary of one of the darkest days in American history.
With bin Laden still living, the event still would have been incredibly significant, and the league’s failure to play a full slate of games that day — including the Giants and Redskins squaring off in D.C. and the Jets hosting the Cowboys in primetime — would have been yet another P.R. debacle for the NFL. With bin Laden gone, September 11, 2011 will have an even more powerful impact on our country, and the sense of indignity to the American people resulting from a lockout that wipes out the 9/11 games will escalate.
Here’s hoping that the owners and NFLPA* leadership realize the potential consequences, and that they commit to finally working out their differences. Especially since the government — whether judicial, legislative, or executive — may be much more inclined to ensure that the 10th anniversary of 9/11 won’t occur without the NFL playing as scheduled its first week of the regular season.
UPDATE: ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio, a U.S. Navy veteran, sent an e-mail on this topic to ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike in the Morning, which they read on the air. “Now that bin Laden is dead, the 10th anniversary of 9/11 is going to be a day of somber national reflection,” Paolantonio sad. “The NFL better make sure there is football that day. Empty stadiums on that day now will be an unsettling example of greed and selfishness.”