Golden Tate should have been called for offensive pass interference, and when that didn’t happen, M.D. Jennings should have been awarded his interception. Either way, the scab officials employed by the NFL have now given a national audience and a legion of pundits the gumption to affect the reputation of America’s favorite sport.
This is a colossal failure on the part of the NFL, Roger Goodell and the 31 owners of the league. By hedging on the league’s reputation, as long as fans continue to pay and watch the sport, the owners can appear to be unmoved by calls for some sort of resolution. But after this weekend, in which several costly plays affected the Patriots-Ravens game, then the Packers were upended by the Seahawks on one play (that reportedly shifted $150 to $250 million in bets in the U.S.), it’s apparent that they are losing the image battle in this labor dispute. It coudln’t be any clearer after Monday night’s game with the avalanche of tweets by players around the league and the commentary by its broadcast partners.
My biggest issue is with all of the memos that have gone out by the league. The league has tried, and failed, to surreptitiously get around the public relations problem of employing scabs by censoring those that are most likely to complain about them, the players and coaches. And each week, a player or coach has faithfully ignored the warnings, impassioned by the bubbling anger over the porous officiating each game. It’s a lose-lose for the NFL, with the image and respect of the league deteriorating each week.
Can you imagine a playoff game being determined in this manner? The Super Bowl? I would wholeheartedly say no. And I don’t think any other fan of the game would respect that kind of outcome either.
It’s time for this to come to an end. If all it will take is a couple of million dollars — for the entire league! — then it needs to happen. There’s too much money coming in (more than $9 billion) for a little to not go to the real officials and fix this problem. It’s embarrassing and disheartening for everyone.