By Jon Burton

Normally, this time of year brings a lot of excitement to the Pittsburgh sports fan. Sure, there’s the NHL Playoffs, but the month of April is usually a big football month as well. The revealing of the NFL schedule as well as the NFL draft are normally like two holidays in Western PA. Folks plan their Draft Day viewing parties, workout their vacations around the Steelers schedule, decide which games they will travel to, and most importantly, ‘When’s the bye week?’ so I can let the wife/girlfriend back in my life for 48 hours. Long story short, there’s buzz. I usually can’t go more than five feet without someone asking me: “Hey, who are the Steelers going to Draft?” (As if I know!) And, “How ’bout that Steelers schedule? Gonna be tough this year!” This year: virtually nothing!

The reason has to be the NFL lockout. I’m sure most fans are like me. I believe the NFL’s labor issue will be resolved in time for there to be football this fall. But, it’s hard to get excited about what’s going on in a league that may not even be playing come September, or one that may have to chop off games if the lockout lingers on. Me, I love the NFL, but I’m having a hard time getting pumped about the draft or the schedule. The NFL is designed to keep you interested and enthused 12 months out of the year. Maybe this lockout is proving that we actually CAN function without the shield. Maybe that’s the positive about all this, Egads: there IS life without football. That being said: GET THE DEAL DONE, BOYS!

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