Hard to believe that it has gone this far, but it has gone this far. The disgrace of the NFL continues on a weekly (daily?) basis. With the obligatory “the replacement refs are trying their best” out of the way, let’s take a look at how the NFL is killing the integrity of the NFL.
THE REPLACEMENT REFS
If yesterday’s final play (blatant offensive pass interference by Seattle, obvious interception by Green Bay ruled game-winning touchdown (14-12) for Seattle) doesn’t convince these owners and the Commissioner to settle their dispute with the real refs, nothing will.
What is wrong with these billionaires? Well, not surprisingly, it’s all about power. Why is the NFL doing this? Because they can, that’s why.
We’ve already had a number of these plays, just nothing as blatant and obviously game-deciding as last night. There was that mystery hold on Rob Gronkowski that, according to Fox rules expert Mike Pereira, should have never been called. That turned a Patriots win against Arizona into a Patriots loss. There was that brutal non-call when Ziggy Hood of the Steelers got obviously chop-blocked with 21 seconds left in a tie game with the Raiders this past Sunday. Rather than moving the Raiders back 15 yards and (maybe) taking them out of field goal range, Sebastian Janikowski kicked a game-winning 44-yard field goal in regulation, avoiding overtime.
While these are just two examples, there are many others.
And, again, it’s not the fault of these referees. It’s the fault of the monopoly, the NFL.
WHAT’S A COACH TO DO?
Well, coaches have been working officials forever. But with these refs, it looks like, at least for the first two weeks of the season, the coaches trying to intimidate and/or cajole officials into changing calls was the norm. Even after the NFL came out with their “don’t harass the officials memo” before week 3, the harassment, maybe more subtle, continued against these replacement refs.
But what else can a coach do? Clearly some officials are intimidated, are trying to satisfy both teams (a virtual impossibility). The coach who does nothing is a fool under these circumstances. Squeaky wheel gets the oil – and the close call.
None of this will change until the real refs are back.
WHAT’S A PLAYER TO DO?
Well, good luck with that. Players have no idea what will and won’t be called. It’s a crapshoot. No consistency on what’s going to be called because these refs, at this game speed, will sometimes see things and sometimes won’t. They will sometimes make the call and sometimes won’t. It’s like a baseball ump who is inconsistent with his strike zone. You better go up swinging cause you have no idea what a strike is today – or next inning.
So the players take a shot. They grab, they hold more than usual, they chop block, they know the refs may not see it and, even if they do (see the last play of Green Bay-Seattle), they may not call it.
It’s the Wild, Wild West out there.
And the players know it.
WHAT’S A GAMBLER TO DO?
While the NFL claims to not care about gambling (yeah, right, are you waiting for this week’s injury reports?), the reality is this is a place where the NFL might actually be hurt (it’s already been slaughtered, integrity-wise. Ask any fan).
How can anybody bet real money on any game with any belief that it will be competently officiated? We can debate all day about how much of the popularity of the NFL is based on gambling of some sort (it says here that a large part of the NFL’s popularity is based on gambling (or “gaming,” as it is now being sanitized)), but the reality is betting on NFL games is a multi-billion dollar industry in and of itself.
No intelligent gambler can any longer bet these games (unless they find some consistent incompetence in the refereeing that they can use to their advantage in a specific game).
And whether they admit it or not, the NFL can’t like that.
WHAT’S THE NFL TO DO?
Well, that’s easy. End the madness now. If the reports are true that the differences between the ref’s association and the NFL is somewhere in the neighborhood of $4-5 million per year, well, that’s chump change to the $12 billion-a-year NFL.
But again, as you may see in your life, the man with the power can and does stupid things, can and does do incompetent things, can and does make irrational decisions.
Why? Cause he (she/they) can, that’s why. The NFL, with its lockout of the refs, is acting like an employer in the 1920s – take it or leave it; if you don’t take it, we’ll find someone else.
How’s that working out for the NFL, especially integrity-wise?
DON’T FORGET THE NEW ORLEANS FIASCO
While a separate issue, Bounty-gate is just another example of this attitude (while some say the Commissioner has no real input into the referee dispute, the New Orleans debacle is all the Commissioner).
How can you leave these players twisting in the wind? How would you like to be a Saints’ fan, essentially seeing your season done after three games (with the interim, interim coach filling in for the interim coach filling in for the coach).
No “decision” yet. Why? Good question, but you don’t think that the Commisioner is going to let these guys off scot-free, do you? He’s got to save face, doesn’t he? What about the integrity of the New Orleans NFL franchise for the 2012 NFL season?
Poof. Up in smoke.
Whether the powers-that-be understand this or not, the NFL would have been better off if they had some rogue refs trying to fix NFL games. Why? Because you would get rid of them, take your lumps for a short period of time (see the NBA, for example) and then get on with your schedule.
Here, the NFL has shot themselves in the foot. It’s all a self-inflicted wound. Why? Because they stupidly drew a line in the sand and now, stupidly, are sticking to it. Why? Because they can.
Hopefully, this latest embarrassment will push them over the edge.
Or, at least, over their own stupidly-imposed line.