FRISCO, Texas – Just when you think you've seen it all …
My goodness, have lived through the Vietnam War.
A president being assassinated.
A former president's brother running for president being assassinated.
The attempted assassination of another president.
A civil rights leader being assassinated.
The riots in Watts.
A man walking on the moon, yet the explosion of the Challenger.
There's been Charles Manson and David Koresh and Jim Jones.
The 9/11 attacks on New York City's World Trade Center and the Pentagon and the hijacked plane going down in Shanksville, Pa., all on the same day, killing 2,977 people.
The mass murders at schools and churches and concerts, even from the University of Texas clock tower way back in 1966.
For some of us, we've lived through it all, and myself surviving the collapsed indoor practice tent structure at The Ranch, along with the bus crash on the way to training camp in 2016.
But now this, this coronavirus, something that began affecting folks worlds away, but now us in this country and slowly but suddenly creeping into our Dallas-Fort Worth neck of the woods.
Not only seemingly bringing our world to a standstill, but simultaneously quarantining our sports world.
Reminds me of this old, black and white Sci-Fi movie released back in 1951, The Day the Earth Stood Still. Or maybe even, On the Beach, the fictional portrayal of a World War III nuclear war aftermath.
That sort of isolated feeling struck me walking up to The Star here on Thursday morning, the message in huge black letters on Ford Center's outdoor video board announcing the cancellation of the Conference-USA basketball tournament. A few people were wandering around outside, less than an hour after the official announcement before the day's first game. Some heading out. Some still milling around. Folks with their Old Dominion shirts on. Some supporting Rice.
Was sad to see two women still wearing their Rice basketball uniforms, leaving with parents who had come to watch them play. Just weird, and even, with apologies to all my English teachers, weirder when after the NBA postponed its season, to see college basketball being called off, then all college winter and spring sports, then the NHL postponing, the Texas high school state basketball tournament canceled with teams already in San Antonio, the XFL canceling the season, along with tennis and golf and World Cup skiing coming to a halt.
All of it, the sports world standing still.
What in the world are we going to watch on TV these days? The morning paper's list of "Today's TV" in the sports section, normally several inches deep, and probably more like a foot long during March Madness, was just this: NASCAR Xfinity practice, then Cup practice, Truck practice, with two other-world soccer matches. Then even NASCAR threw down the checkered flag.
If you're a competition freak as me, guess for the time being all that's left to quench that thirst is American Idol and The Voice.
As for the NFL, only cancellations so far are the owners meetings March 29-April 4 in Palm Beach, Fla., pushing back those until the spring meetings May 19-20 in Marina Del Ray, Calif., along with teams pulling in their scouts from on the road since college pro day workouts also are being canceled. Soon to follow likely will be those 30 visits for the draft eligible college players, and around here, Dallas Day visits, too. And my best guess would be TBD right now for the NFL Draft coming April 23-25 in Las Vegas. Might just turn back the clock 60 years to simply 32 guys in a hotel ballroom, save making calls to the guys they drafted on hallway pay phones.
Pretty lonely out here at The Star today, too, though I guess it's also Friday and it's been raining all day and Spring Break is in full progress. Hardly anyone up here to fist bump.
But the NFL business is continuing, but with a caveat:
The NFLPA polls close at 10:59 p.m. (CDT) Saturday, so we should know after midnight if the union membership approved or rejected the proposed Collective Bargaining Agreement. Either way, the deadline for tagging players to reserve a right-of-refusal still remains 10:59 a.m. (CDT) Monday and with the start of the league year and free agency at 3 p.m. Wednesday, March 18, as scheduled . . . for now.
The action between midnight Sunday morning and midday Monday should be fast and furious, with the Cowboys certainly anticipating getting some work done, either with contractual tags or the signing of impending free agents to long-term deals over that three-day period.
But the more having thought about it, if it were me, and I was a free agent, and I had an offer on the table from my team, and considering what's going on with this COVID-19, and I've got a good offer but still yet looking for more, I'm grabbing a pen and signing right now. Immediately.
The last thing I'd want in this current health and economic climate is to hit 3 p.m. Wednesday without a job, or at least a contract that guarantees me a signing bonus because who knows when my next check might arrive. And if you're a free agent, will teams sign you to a contract without first bringing you in for a one-on-one visit if a national travel ban is issued?
Again, let me preface with: For now. Who knows what the NFL might decide by Monday.
And really don't think that's being overly dramatic.
Because we have entered into unprecedented times, sort of like a Twilight Zone, trying to navigate without any pre-programed GPS, er, for those of us who actually think we've seen it all, a map.
You know, there is a little irony in all this. There are NFL players out there railing against the proposed CBA, saying no way they want to play one more regular-season game, a 17th game being proposed even if they will be paid handsomely to do so.
Yeah, well, guarantee you that young basketball player I saw in her Rice uniform walking away from Ford Center on Thursday, damn well wishes she was playing one more game today. For free.