The NFL lockout, which was given fresh life by a couple of federal appeals judges this week, isn't good for anyone except the lawyers sucking money from the owners and the players.
This mess may be especially bad for the Eagles. While coach Andy Reid told reporters Tuesday the team is ready to spring into action, whenever action is allowed to be sprung into again, it sure looks like his team has more to overcome than most.
This is not a built-in excuse for a bad 2011 for this team. The Eagles are victims of timing in some cases, victims of their own management decisions in others. The entire universe knew the league's owners had this lockout planned, so we can assume that Jeffrey Lurie and Joe Banner were in that loop.
In the big game of NFL Twister, the Eagles were caught in a particularly painful contortion when timeout was called.
They have a new defensive coordinator, which isn't that unusual. But they are the only team in the NFL that promoted a career offensive line coach to run its entire defense. If any coach in the NFL could have used the offseason programs to teach his system, and to get a feel for the job he'd undertaken, that coach is Juan Castillo.
They have a new offensive line coach. Howard Mudd was brought in to teach his unique approach to blocking techniques. So a group of linemen who have played all or most of their pro careers under Castillo are going to have to adjust to Mudd's way in a hurry.
They have arguably the most complicated quarterback situation in the league - with apologies to Washington's Donovan McNabb conundrum. Not only has the labor stoppage prevented the Eagles from trading Kevin Kolb, it has frozen starter Michael Vick with a meaningless franchise tag and no actual contract.
Appearing on Comcast SportsNet, Reid said the Eagles heard from a bunch of teams interested in acquiring Kolb. But that was before the lockout and well before the draft, when some percentage of those teams invested high picks in the position.
Now there is certainly a chance that technically verboten conversations are taking place - trades, contact with free agents, tentative agreements - all over football. In fact, considering the human beings involved in running NFL teams, it is likely. So maybe the Eagles have a trade worked out for Kolb and know that two or three elite free agents will sign with them as soon as business opens. Maybe.
But assuming everyone is telling the truth and the letter of lockout law is being obeyed, the Eagles may face the unhappy choice of dealing Kolb for less than market value or bringing him unhappily back as their No. 2 quarterback.
Vick's situation is even murkier. All around football, quarterbacks are organizing player-only workouts so they can be as ready as possible when camps inevitably open. It's easy to dismiss what Drew Brees is doing with the Saints or Mark Sanchez is doing with the Jets or Brian Dawkins is doing with the Broncos.
But those of us who were around in 1987 - and especially the players who were on Buddy Ryan's team - know how important that strike was in forging the chemistry that defined the Eagles of 1988 through 1992. You can't believe that team unity was important to that team and ridicule the idea now.
Heck, McNabb used to host teammates at his Arizona home for offseason workouts during normal years.
Vick has said he plans to get some teammates together, and he may. But other teams are well ahead of the Eagles, at least partly because their QB is caught in the strangest contract limbo imaginable. His obligations to bankruptcy court have consumed much of the money he's made in his two seasons with the Eagles. And the looming lockout prevented him from getting a long-term deal with a big signing bonus. The franchise tag is, for now, a worthless piece of paper.
So it may simply be impossible for Vick to foot the bill for travel, lodging, and facilities for a bunch of teammates. It is worth noting that Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers has expressed the opinion that it's just impractical and, at least at this point, unnecessary to organize workouts.
But Rodgers' team won the Super Bowl this year. The Packers have stability on their coaching staff and all along their roster. So do the Jets and Steelers, Saints and Ravens, Giants and Patriots.
All of those teams will have it easier when the pause button is pressed again and football operations resume.
There are too many unknowns - timing, rules governing player movement - to predict whether the Eagles can overcome these disadvantages. If there is ever a time for them to be truly smarter than everyone else, this is it.