All that matters is they got it done.
Forget the speech from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell where he talked about winning back the fans. Ignore all the tough rhetoric from fans who threatened various boycotts and demonstrations. By getting a deal done, and in time that a season was not missed, even shortened or delayed for that matter, the owners and players did the only thing that truly counted.
They gave football back to the people.
There are plenty of folks who understandably will still be peeved about the process. For over four months—and really, much longer than that—a battle often labeled as "Millionaires vs. Billionaires" was waged chiefly through carefully crafted public relations messages rather than at the bargaining table. The cherry on top, a $10 billion dollar prize, every penny of which either directly or indirectly comes from average people like you and me.
Even to a less cynical person, it all came off as greedy, and selfish, and... well that's because it was, actually. As much as we may hate to admit it, professional football isn't merely a game that grown men get paid to play. It's a business, and is subject to disagreements over how the money gets shared from time to time.
So with all that finally over and done with, and apparently for the next decade at that, I say, "No harm, no foul."
Let's try to keep things in perspective. The NFL hasn't missed games or played a shortened season as a result of labor issues since 1987. In that timeframe, Major League Baseball lost a World Series, the NHL lost an entire season, and the NBA is currently embroiled in its own lockout limbo that will almost certainly leave arenas dark into 2012.
Again, the NFL didn't miss anything. The off-season was funky, and a nationally televised scrimmage preseason game was the lone scheduling casualty. Other than that, the lockout has left no measurable impact on the fans from a pure numbers standpoint.
It remains to be seen whether September will feature sloppy football and an increase in injuries, as some observers suggest might be the result of a long summer off. Those things are certainly possible. Players will be out of shape, and free agents will join their new clubs in camp later.
But I'll take sloppy football over no football though, even over delayed football, or less football. Once Labor Day has come and gone, it will be pigskin season again. For the fans, that ought to be enough.