Originally written on This Given Sunday  |  Last updated 11/20/14

The 2011 NFL season was another unbelievable year of great football, entertaining storylines, Cowboys breakdowns, and James Harrison fines. We saw players gain elite status, rookies wasting no time to dominate and some would-be stars fall back to earth. That being said, it's easy to forget that this season might not have existed.

There was a looming evil overshadowing this NFL season known as the Lockout that could have made the 2011 and perhaps the 2012 season disappear. We'd be forced to read legal briefs instead of box scores, and argue players vs owners instead of Pats vs Giants or Eli vs Peyton.

Here are five major storylines and events that would be radically different if the Lockout had lasted.  

1) Andrew Luck doesn't go to the Colts (Nor is Peyton Manning a Free Agent)

While we still don’t know how fast Peyton’s nerves will build, we do know that he has been medically cleared by doctors. With that being said the year off would have given Peyton more time to heal and also probably would have made the Colts more focused on building a future with Peyton as their QB. (Jim Irsay also would not have shelled out $26 million to Peyton for a lost season).

The Colts would not have ever reached the low point of the first overall pick - assuming that there even was an NFL draft in a locked-out 2012 - and Andrew Luck would most likely have a different home. Where Andrew Luck lands will most likely have had a big impact on the future of the NFL.

2) Eli Manning doesn't "grow up"

This year one of the most common sayings was "You can’t spell Elite without Eli." However if the 2011 season had never happened, Eli might still be in Peyton’s shadow. Eli got a full year without Peyton in the league and was able to shine in the spotlight. Without the time off the Eagles might have been able get off to a better start, and well the possibilities are endless. Eli was able to shed the tag of being "Peyton’s little brother" this season and develop a legacy in his own right. This is surely a year Eli would not want to give up. 

3) Roger Goodell’s legacy is tarnished

Roger Goodell has the potential to not only be the greatest commissioner in NFL history but perhaps sports history. Goodell has been stern and efficient in his rule helping create the NFL into one of the biggest and most reputable brands in the world. Most importantly, Goodell was able to build a relationship with DeMaurice Smith and steer past massive obstacles to save the NFL season. 

If he hadn't, though... his legacy would be defined as the man who let $10 billion in broadcast revenues evaporate into thin air, the man who robbed us of the Super Bowl. Even Bud Selig would look good by comparison.

4) Brett Favre doesn't retire?

Who knows?? If football really did take a year off it might have given Brett even more time to debate over the ongoing soap opera that is his retirement. 

5) Ray Lewis and others do retire?

There are several players out there playing past their primes (you know who you are) that might have decided to retire earlier had there been no 2011 season. Players like Champ Bailey, Ed Reed, Ray Lewis, Hines Ward all might have left the league early. In the case of a fringe player like Ward, the lost year and an early retirement might have kept him out of consideration for the Hall of Fame. 


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