After three weeks of football in 2012, the lockout imposed by the greedy NFL owners on their referees has finally made their sport unwatchable. By employing incapable men (scabs) to try and referee their games they have turned each one into a Three Stooges episode. The final plays on Monday Night Football between Green Bay and Seattle, which resulted in the scabs snatching a win out of the Packers' hands, may start to finally up the heat on the fat cat owners. C&L's managing editor Dave Neiwert is a big Seahawk fan so he's probably not too bummed out by the calls, but outside of him, it's a nightmare.*
The refs now just call penalties on almost every play. And most of the time they don't know the rules or the penalty they are calling. It's insane. GB intercepted a last second hail Mary pass in the end zone which they believed won them the game, but the scabs ruled it a catch for Seattle when Golden Tate clearly did not have possession of the ball, and a win for the home team.
After the game Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy refused to comment of the refs because the league put out a memo telling the coaches to stop attacking the scabs for making phantom calls. I imagine he didn't want to be fined $50K for blasting the officials after suffering a horrifying loss. It's their livelihoods and every win and play matters to the players and coaching staffs, but not to the greedy owners.
I never thought the owners would embarrass their sport over a few bucks before, but this is the NEW Republican ideal.
It’s also bewildering. Consider the multibillion-dollar entity that is the National Football League. Then consider that NFL referees are 119 part-time employees who make $8,000 a week. As Jeff MacGregorcalculated at espn.com, at a cost of $50 million a year—less than one percent of total revenue—NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell could hire 200 full-time officials at $250,000 a year. Conversely, if Goodell gets everything he wants from the referees union and he doesn’t have to spend too much in legal fees, it works out to league-wide savings of just $62,000 per team.
Locking them out is like using an Uzi on a field mouse. The question once again is why? Why has NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, taken such a hard line? After a year defined by the tragic suicides of former players suffering from post-concussion syndrome and a looming lawsuit brought by 2000 former players contending that the NFL didn’t take their safety seriously, why would they engage in such naked contempt for the well-being of players and the integrity of their game? Simply put, because they can.
It was bad enough when after the owners signed a massive new TV deal, they locked out their players to demand salary cuts as their profits rose dramatically to 9 billion dollars. Now they are locking out the refs for pennies. Why, you ask? Because they can. It's all about Randian greed and the fact that they figure the rubes will keep watching no matter what they do to their product.
NFL Owners and sports pundits said across the board that the scabs would get better the more games they officiate, but as someone who creates for a living that was never going to happen. You can't take lingerie football refs and make them into real officials during the course of an NFL season or even after ten. They don't have what's necessary to do the job, but the tea party owners could care less about the fans or their league. it's all about money, money, money. And when you see how little it actually is that they are locking out the real refs over, well, it destroys anything any conservative could ever say about the trickle down economic effect they seem to believe in. If anything this demonstration of utter self gluttony proves that the rich never will give up a penny in profits to pass down down below.
Look at the demands being made of the referees: NFL owners want them to stop being part-time labor and instead work full-time for the league. Sounds great, except they want the refs to eliminate their other sources of income while taking a 16 percent cut in salary. They also want to eliminate their pensions and replace them with 401k plans tied to the stock market.
Put simply, the owners line is less pay, less benefits, and if you don’t like it we’re locking the doors.“They told us if we didn’t take what was on the table, they would cut it more and they have. They have disguised regressive bargaining as trying to improve officiating overall and to give people more time off,” said NFL Referee’s Association lead negotiator Mike Arnold. “They keep saying in the media that they were willing, able, and ready to negotiate, but they kept telling us they weren’t interested in discussing our proposal and if the deal was going to settle it was going to settle on their terms.”
* Dave N. adds: Actually, it's not exactly right to claim that the bad officiating in Monday night's game dictated its outcome -- because it had been going on all night, and up until the final play, had decidedly favored the Packers. The second half of the game was littered with bad calls that kept Packers drives (notably the one on which they scored a touchdown) alive when they should have been over. And then there were the horrific non-calls against the Packers all night, particularly the offensive line's obvious holds, and an outrageously obvious defensive pass-interference call that should have been made on the Seahawks' penultimate offensive series.
So yeah, bad officiating affected the Monday night game, no question about that. But it didn't decide it.