While the NFL lockout has saddened fans everywhere, it's safe to say that a few veterans are enjoying this time to kick back, relax, and steal some news headlines. Tennessee Titans defensive end Jason Babin is definitely one of these players since he's received a lot of attention recently for entertaining offers from the CFL and UFL.
In an article with the Tennessean, Babin discussed his plans for the offseason by saying that he may compete in MMA matches or go on a bear-hunting trip to Alaska. In regards to this, Babin told writer Jim Wyatt, "They would probably frown on that, but right now I am free and clear to do as I please. I could play in the Canadian Football League if I wanted to."
Babin also added, "I know those leagues would love to grow their awareness, and if they got a certain amount of high-profile guys to join in, the money would go from the NFL pool to the CFL or UFL pool and maybe they could negotiate a TV deal. Now that would scare the (stuffing) out of the NFL owners, you know?"
Now Babin isn't the only guy who's entertaining offers from outside leagues. In fact, some players have already made the leap like Cleveland Browns WR Rod Windsor and Dallas Cowboys WR Troy Bergeron, who signed with Arena League teams this week; Windsor went to the Arizona Rattlers while Bergeron signed with the Cleveland Gladiators.
However, these guys are both practice squad players, and Babin is coming off of a career year where he recorded 12.5 sacks and made the Pro Bowl. If the UFL or CFL can land a player like Babin, it could start a trend where more stars play in smaller league since there is no collective bargaining agreement in place. And this could definitely hurt the NFL as Babin eluded to when he told Wyatt, "So the NFL owners are fighting two fights. They are fighting a lockout fight, and they could be fighting the rise of the other leagues. They make themselves vulnerable the longer this lockout goes on.''
Obviously, these leagues have no chance to compete with the NFL in the long-term, but it could be fun to see some of the better players like Babin in a totally different league. And seeing as how it looks like there's going to be a long-winding legal battle ahead between the NFLPA and league owners, it's not unfathomable to think of some decent players taking low six-figure contracts from small leagues.
Moving beyond this whole mess, the lockout has already generated some good stories with Bengals WR Chad Ochocino scheduling a tryout with Major League Soccer's Sporting Kansas City, and Ravens safety Tom Zbikowski fighting a professional boxing match. Minnesota Vikings defensive end Ray Edwards is also looking to get into the ring as he's scheduled to box in early April.
But boxing matches and soccer tryout aside, it's safe to say that fans would rather be thinking about what teams will shine in 2011, instead of wondering if teams will even take the field this fall.