How does the Lockout end? With a thank you, but no apologies

For the last four months, ever since the players and owners stood up from their respective tables and went the paths of decertification, lawsuits, and locking the doors, it’s been awful hard to talk about football. Like a giant family of children caught in the middle of a very loud, very public and very messy divorce, we the millions of fans were being asked to choose sides, when all we ever wanted was for them to shut up and get back together.

Now, finally, they have, and the player reps have a simple message of thanks for us.

But should either party apologize to the fans for holding the game hostage and threatening to blow it all up? A series of tweets between myself and Sports Illustrated’s Peter King led to a pretty interesting discussion on that note.

The initial exchange

After officially signig the deal, Patriots owner Robert Kraft (who lost his wife Myra just days ago and received an outpouring of support from the players’ side of the fence) went so far as to apologize to his team’s fans for dragging them through this process. It was a classy move, and it led to a meme of discussion about whether that apology should be league-wide.

The venerable Mr. King took to Twitter to retort:

It’s horsecrap to say NFL, players have to “make it up” to the fans. Make up what? They got the deal done 45 days before the season.

What exactly did the fans miss? Mini-camp coverage. The football world would have signed up for missing no real games.

Said the pipsqueak blogger in response:

@SI_PeterKing Yeah they got a deal done, but for four months no one has been able to have a positive conversation about football.

@SI_PeterKing The NFL built a year-round relationship with fans. To poison even a part of that with this crap should be apologized for.

Now maybe I’m taking the idea of a “relationship” between the league and its fans too far, but in my marriage of eleven years, after you fight you apologize, no matter what you were fighting about or how big, or how long it takes you to smooth things over. It’s part of the process, and isn’t a big deal, really.

But of course, there are those who refuse to apologize, who think it’s weak to apologize. I’ve taken that route, too. And I can say from very personal experience that it does not end nearly as well. But hey, Mr. King has been married to the league for longer than I’ve been married period, he’s been through bigger labor wars than this, and he’s apparently fine with the tough guy approach.

RT @RamsHerd: The NFL built a year-round relationship with fans. To poison that should be apologized for … Wah, wah, wah. Here’s a tissue.

The feedback

Now, when you get retweeted by someone with half a million followers, the door is wide open for that horde to chime in. And as you might expect, responses fell into two different camps. A sampling:

3k_: HAHAHHAHAHAHAHA. That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen on Twitter, and it’s from Peter King. What a day.

RYbbc34: you know Peter, for as brilliant as you are, you sure can be a pompous ass on Twitter sometimes 

DanWoods19: Bob Kraft apologizes to fans. king doesn’t think it’s right. Which is wrong? Easy choice.

billreichman: So is pretty much out of touch w/ what fans think.

RobustOne: Way to prove that we, as fans, don’t matter to the NFL. Thanks Peter!

bighank3: tell that to businesses in canton that lost HOF game!

mwelker47: Haha goodone peter…..if fans are mad don’t buy tickets.

nfljunky1013: LOL! I missed them running around in shorts and tshirts. Oh and OTA and mini camp injuries

allgames: Fans should stop crying RT The NFL built a year round relationship with fans To poison that should be apologized for

dvond: As a huge fan, no poison for me, it is a business for everyone, people need to realize and not take it personal

BobbyCruz1377: Hahahaha yeah pretty much. NFL got it done, now Dems and Reps need to follow suit!

polonius916: this was a standard labor dispute for the few industries that still have unions. The product is intact. No apologies

PuckandGridiron: the business dealings of NFL owners/players are a necessary evil and as fans we have to live with em..necessary evil


I’d love to hear your take. Does being the biggest game in the land mean never having to say you’re sorry?