Forget Me Not: Why NFL Fans Should Never Forget ‘The Replacements’

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The Packers became the inevitable martyr in the dispute between the NFL and its own locked out officials. Credit US Presswire.

I think most NFL fans would love to forget about the last seven weeks with regards to the officiating debacle.  The phantom calls.  The no calls.  The seemingly hours of deliberations between officials, then still having to be corrected by some mythical person behind the veil representing the NFL.  It was enough to make a root canal seem like a fun day at the office.  But, no matter how painful the 2012 season has been thus far, all fans of the NFL should never ever forget the pain and grief the NFL put us and the players through.

That’s right, I said the NFL.  Not the refs.  Remember, the replacement refs were no where near the level of the pros.  The replacement refs were completely unaccustomed to the speed of the game that, for most of them, it was just 60 minutes of blurriness.  It’s not their fault they missed call after call and needed an extra person in the booth to call down when they really goofed up.  Thursday evening’s contest of the Browns vs. the Ravens had over 70 years of collective experience officiating that game.  You just can’t replace that.  The NFL brass tried.  They hid behind the refs by staying quiet.  After all, it’s the replacements who were making the bad calls.  In the heat of the moment, they were getting the boos.  All the NFL needed to do was stay silent long enough to make it seem like they were reviewing tapes and talking to officials, then release some bogus statement that reaffirmed what took place on the field and in a very coded way announced their own complacency to the B.S. taking place every week.  All the while raking in the millions with the hard earned cash of their consumers.

For what? $30 million?  That’s the total amount field officials wanted in extra compensation.  According to Sean Conboy of the Pittsburgh Magazine, that’s how much the NFL needed to fork over to end the labor dispute.  The NFL is a business that makes over $8 billion a year and is slated to make $27 billion in tv contracts alone between 2012 and 2020.  The $30 million is .1% of that $27 billion.  That’s one tenth of one percent.  Peanuts.  Yet Commish Rodger Goodell did not want to budge and actually asked for a 16% pay cut.

The problem with the starving artist slant is that… well… it only works for starving artists.  In fact, it never works for them either.  When you make as much money as the NFL does and are asking for pay cuts, don’t be surprised when that group laughs in your face and shoves a picket sign up your rear end.  Goodell tried to stick it to fans and players by using this rag tag bunch of replacement refs.  And in the end it only hurt the image and integrity of the NFL – the shield.

So it’s all said and done.  Why are we still talking about this?  Why should we not stop talking about it?  Because the NFL was one nationally televised unbelievably blown call away from getting away with it for another week.  And another and another, until the 2012 season would conclude in New Orleans.  The NFL was ready to sweep everything under the rug and tiptoe quietly into the 2012/13 offseason if they could get away with it.  Unfortunately for Goodell, no amount of spinning could do away with what everyone saw on national television Monday night in Seattle.  Enraged pundits and commentators spewed fire at how awful the NFL brass was at letting something like this to continue to happen.  Even ESPN’s Steve Young became emotional about the ‘game (he) loved.’  There were rumors of a ‘kneel-down’ as a protest from players.  God, wouldn’t that have been a sight to behold?  Goodell now became front and center – there was no more hiding behind the refs each week.  Goodell and the owners should continue to be front and center over the scrutiny into how this league is run from the business side.