It's Time to Forgive and Forget the NFL Lockout

It's Time to Forgive and Forget the NFL Lockout

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.

Pressing too hard? Claude Giroux realizes less can be more

Pressing too hard? Claude Giroux realizes less can be more

NEW YORK — Ron Hextall admitted there’s a bit of a double-edged sword to Claude Giroux.
 
“I think he’s pressing too hard,” Hextall said before Sunday night’s game. “It’s what you like about him; there’s a few guys like that. You like that [competitiveness] about them, but sometimes you become your own worst enemy because they beat themselves up.”
 
The captain was entering the day with a goal drought of 12 games, his longest since Oct. 2-Nov. 7, 2013, when he opened the season goalless in 15 contests.
 
“G wants to be successful at everything,” the general manager said. “Hopefully something good happens for him and he gets rolling. He’s too good of a player to play like this.”
 
Hextall got his wish.
 
Nearly four hours later, Giroux buried the game-winning goal of the Flyers’ 3-2 overtime win against the Islanders at the Barclays Center. Not only did it relieve Giroux of his funk, but it also did the same for the Flyers, who had lost three straight and 12 of their last 15.
 
"It's been tough the last couple of weeks,” Giroux said. “We know we're a better team. 
 
“Obviously we can still be better but we needed this win tonight.”
 
And Giroux needed that goal. Over the previous 12 games, the Flyers’ second-leading scorer was a minus-13 with seven assists and just one even-strength point. It’s no coincidence the Flyers went 2-8-2 in those 12 games.
 
Giroux didn’t disagree with his boss.
 
“You want to succeed and you want to play the best you can,” he said. “Sometimes you push it a little too much. When you sit back and kind of look at the big picture, sometimes I think that's when you kind of realize you need to relax and just go out there and play.”
 
Before the game, head coach Dave Hakstol made a change that reaped the rewards. He decided to put Jakub Voracek back on the top line with Giroux and Michael Raffl. Giroux finished with six shots, his most since Dec. 21, while Voracek put up four and assisted the overtime winner.
 
“Well, I mean there are a lot of things that go into that,” Hakstol said of the move. “Those guys have success together, but more importantly, you look at some of the combinations as you go through the year when you’ve had success. Sometimes one change gives you a little bit of a jump-start. Those guys did a good job.”
 
Giroux’s goal was emblematic in a way that he simply planted himself in front of the net and tapped in Shayne Gostisbehere’s wraparound pass. There was no highlight-reel deke or miraculous shot.
 
Keeping it simple — as players often say — did the trick.
 
"Sometimes you don't need to try so hard,” Giroux said. “You need to go about your job and make sure you do the right things out there. Make sure you help your teammates and linemates. Just go out there and play hockey. We're supposed to have fun doing it, right? So sometimes you need to relax and kind of look at how you can get better.”
 
Sunday was a start.

Joel Embiid doubtful Tuesday vs. Clippers with left knee injury

Joel Embiid doubtful Tuesday vs. Clippers with left knee injury

Joel Embiid did not practice on Monday and is listed as doubtful for the Sixers' game Tuesday against the Clippers.

Embiid hyperextended his left knee in the Sixers' 93-92 win over the Blazers Friday. He said after the game that the knee was fine, but the Sixers are clearly exercising caution with their young star center. Embiid will also rest on Wednesday against the Bucks.

"I knew it was OK. I just landed the wrong way," Embiid said Friday. "I'm great. The knee's fine. They did an MRI and stuff, everything looked good."

The Sixers are calling it a left knee contusion. They're 13-17 when Embiid plays and 2-10 without him.

Jahlil Okafor (right knee soreness) was limited at Monday's practice but is probable to play the Clippers.

Okafor had 12 points, four rebounds and three blocks in 30 minutes in Saturday's 110-93 loss at Atlanta.

CSN Philly's Jessica Camerato contributed to this report.