There are two kinds of sports business: the stuff no one wants to hear about and the stuff everyone loves to talk about.
After 136 days of the former, the NFL will kick off the latter with a vengeance Tuesday. The Black-Friday-at-Wal-Mart approach to free agency and other personnel moves should go a long way toward reengaging fans who were tuned out by the static of all that labor strife.
The lockout, which finally ended with a firm agreement Monday, really didn't have that much lasting impact on the game or the fans. The end of the lockout is a different matter. For a week or so, the league will be thrown into chaos and uncertainty unseen since the 1987 strike and replacement games.
This is human nature at work. The two sides needed a pressing deadline before everyone got serious about a negotiation. Before that, months were spent with both sides taking the temperature of the court system before giving up on that remedy and settling on face-to-face discussions. That explains the last six months.
Still, it is breathtaking and bizarre to think the Eagles will be reporting to camp at Lehigh within 48 hours of the lockout's end. The only redeeming element is that all 32 teams are facing the same madness. It may not be sane, but at least it's fair.
This next week is going to have a profound impact on the NFL. Front offices will have to conduct months' worth of business in just a few days: making trades, signing free agents, releasing or re-signing their own borderline players, bringing in undrafted college players, negotiating with their draft picks. Then coaches will have to teach their offensive, defensive and specialty schemes to an in-flux roster of players who had no offseason classroom or formal practice time.
For the short term, there will be a slight edge to established coaching staffs - although Andy Reid, the definition of an established coach, ceded some of that advantage by overhauling his staff after the 2010 fizzle. Still, you suspect Reid and new coordinator Juan Castillo have spent some of the last five months figuring out a way to streamline the defense and its installation.
In every offseason, some teams are looking to fill a couple of holes in an effort to push a contending team over the top. Other teams, in rebuilding mode, take the longer view toward the draft and free agency.
That will be the case this week, except that every team will have to act quickly or risk being trampled in the stampede to fill out rosters. That risk is especially high for smaller-market teams that have to spend up to 99 percent of the roughly $120 million salary cap. Some marginal players could get very lucky thanks to that clause in the agreement.
The Eagles are unquestionably one of the teams looking to make a run in 2011. With Michael Vick in his prime and a powerful group of offensive skill players, and with the clock ticking a little louder every year for Reid, they have to be aggressive. They also have more holes to fill than the average 2010 playoff team, so they have to be creative, too.
The Eagles have certainly encouraged the perception that they will be very active, and they have touted their well-organized and experienced front office as an edge in this hectic atmosphere. They are about to get the chance to prove themselves.
It is a virtual certainty they will trade backup quarterback Kevin Kolb as soon as the bell rings. If they can fill a major hole - a cornerback is the current speculation - in that deal, they can pursue their other priorities: a difference-making defensive lineman or two, depth at safety, a backup quarterback, a linebacker and perhaps a veteran offensive lineman.
Along with a new coordinator and position coaches, this defense could have five or six new starters this season.
It will be interesting to see how many of the rumored names turn out to be accurate: Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie from Arizona? Defensive end Ray Edwards? Defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth? Vince Young or, heaven forbid, Brett Favre to back up Vick? Linebacker Paul Posluszny?
It will be interesting for football reasons, but also as a gauge of just how much behind-the-scenes communication, even tampering, has gone on during the lockout. You can bet the NFL will let that slide this year. The teams have been handed a mess. No reason to quibble with how they choose to clean it up.
The chaos will subside. Rosters will get settled. Football will be played. New business will replace the dirty old business of the last six months. By Sept. 11, when the Eagles open the season in St. Louis, the entire lockout will be pretty much forgotten.
And you know what? That's just fine.