As soon as the NFL lockout began, there was a big-time drop in fan interest. Traffic for football websites (this one included) has decreased from its normal offseason levels thanks to the lack of free agency, and in general football fans have simply been turned off by the lockout. Needless to say, having a work stoppage isn't good for business.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is aware of how the lockout is affecting fans' interest.
"Clearly it has had an impact on the fans," Goodell said as the owners completed their spring meetings. "We see it in various metrics. There's been a noticeable change, TV ratings were down on the draft roughly 4 million people. NFL.com traffic (is down), we see that."
Here's my problem: Goodell and the owners seem content with letting the lockout continue until regular season games are in jeopardy of being missed. The same goes for De Smith and the NFLPA. There still doesn't seem to be a sense of urgency with this situation despite interest from fans continuing to drop and events already starting to be canceled. This should not be a situation where the two sides just let things play out in the courts and then finally come together to get something done toward the latter part of the summer. They've had plenty of time to work something out, but neither side is willing to compromise.
It shouldn't be surprising one bit that fans are losing interest in the NFL. Aside from there not being much to talk about, fans are getting sick of the owners and players being unable to divide up billions of dollars. Obviously this isn't a simple, straightforward deal, but the owners and players are making it way more complicated than it should be by continuing to bicker rather than negotiate.