NFL 2012: Referee Saga Continues Into Week 4


Let me preface this by shouting out Packer fans today. You had a victory snatched (pun intended) from you by a couple of people who, to this moment, still can’t agree on the call. At any rate, we march forward into week four of the NFL season as the saga that is “Replacement Referees: How Long Will It Last” continues.  

While most just give you the basic rundown (refs on strike, they suck, free Ed Hochuli) it is actually a VERY fascinating situation if you look at it on a whole.

On one hand you have the referees, part-time employees, asking for about $40-$50 million dollars more in salary (spread over 120 officials) and pension. That would make their total compensation a 401K, pension, and a salary for part-time work that rivals most full-time employees in any industry.

On the other hand you have the NFL, big business, making billions as the highest rated sport by a HUGE margin now since 1983. Roger Goodell (whom I’m not a fan of) has a decision to make: does he pay the referees and give in to their demand in good times, or does he hold a hard stance in thinking they aren’t worth that kind of payment no matter how much revenue they’re making.

It’s kind of an awesome case study because we are seeing on a micro-economic scale what happened at the macro-economic level (i.e. the overall economy). In good times we gave everyone pensions, everyone needed a house and everyone got big fat bonuses because times were good. Big picture says with the NFL facing lawsuits from about 3,000 former players on concussion issues, and knowing that with any change comes a slight drop in demand (rule changes limiting the hits we love to see on ESPN highlights) he can’t REALLY afford to give into this particular union no matter what because that extra cash could come in handy down the road.

The replacements are terrible, I played organized sports at every level up to Division II and I’ve never seen it this bad. At the same time I’m of the school of thought that no game should ever get to the point where it is decided by referees. If it does I didn’t do my job as a player and I only have myself to blame.

I also think it is interesting because Steve Young changed his position twice in the span of two weeks. I was at that game in Atlanta at the Georgia Dome and it took them two hours to get through ONE HALF of football. The calls were horrible, the refs were inept and it was terrible and sloppy to watch. That night Steve Young told us “it doesn’t matter, because guess what? You will still watch.” He was right, here I am a week later after watching another terribly officiated game. This week, though, he could sense that it was time the NFL does something as he said “now it is about the integrity of the game. Revenue aside, something needs to be done.”

So there you have it in a nutshell. If anything I’m willing to bet that if you were running this business you may take the same hard-line given the circumstances. While it pains me to watch athletes put it all out there for our entertainment and not have proper officiating I also can’t see just folding. My honest opinion, which I hold no matter the sport, is that this situation should have been rectified before it got to this point.

But here we are, and here we will continue to be until the Commissioner, the Owners and the officials (yes YOU guys too) get their heads out of their rear ends and find common ground.

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