Welcome, everyone, to my favorite sports week of the year.
I love football, have been a baseball fan all my life, and enjoy watching a Caps game as much as the next guy, especially in person. But, to me, there is nothing better than Week 1 of the NCAA Tournament.
The drama, the intensity, the screaming Gus Johnson - it's all spectacular.
As far as I'm concerned, there's simply nothing better than camping out in front of a TV during the first and second rounds of the tourney and watching 8-10 hours of non-stop action. I'm giddy right now just thinking about it. Seriously.
For the record, as of this moment, I've got Kansas winning it all. But check in with me Thursday morning and I might have something completely different. Putting together my bracket is always a process.
Unfortunately, this fantastic week is tempered by the fact that it's the first full week of the NFL lockout.
After the events that took place on Friday, things have started to get a little ugly. Despite being in the same room, somehow the owners and players apparently have vastly different opinions of what actually went on during the negotiating process, and now each side is taking to the courts to try and gain leverage in this possibly lengthy legal battle.
Yesterday, the pettiness only increased, as reports came out that the NFLPA - or, should I say, what was formerly the NFLPA before the union opted to decertify - has requested that the top 17 prospects for this year's draft not attend the traditional draft festivities for the top picks at Radio City Music Hall in New York.
While these guys will become NFL players someday (and hopefully, if a new collective bargaining agreement can eventually be reached, that will be in the not-too-distant future), they aren't a part of the NFL mess just yet.
Let them have their fun on draft day and enjoy the night however they choose to. If you've worked hard enough to be one of the top five or 10 players taken, you have every right to get to walk across that stage, shake commissioner Roger Goodell's hand, and take in the entire draft day experience in NYC.
These players shouldn't have to fear that if they attend the draft that they'll in some way be blackballed by the "union" leaders or be treated as a traitor by their future teammates.
The labor situation will get plenty messy over the next few weeks, and possibly the next few months. I understand that with millions of football fans watching, draft day will be a prime chance for both the NFL and the players to make some sort of public statement.
But is it too much to ask to let the event just stand on its own and not serve as a backdrop for more labor bickering?