The first week of the 2010 NFL playoffs produced some exhilarating games, close & competitive with major upsets. While the NFL appears to be at the height of its success and popularity, bolstered by competitive franchises and high-profile players, there are potentially dark days ahead for what is arguably the true American pastime. The collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and its players union expires after this season, and the two sides are far apart. Talk of a lockout or a strike is becoming louder, and both sides seem to distrust the other, with owners claiming financial hardship and players crying foul in the wake of huge ticket sales and media deals. There are other pressing matters to NFL players that are even more important than finances, namely their health. With increasing evidence that head trauma suffered during their playing careers leads to serious health consequences for aging players, the league is expected to do more to take care of their gridiron warriors. Will any of the dark clouds on the NFL’s horizon affect how you watch this weekend’s playoffs?
Nolan Harrison, senior director of former player services for the NFL Players Association