Count those 3 words among the phrases I never thought I would write.
Adam Schefter, on ESPN yesterday, rather presciently predicted, and I quote:
The mistakes they've (replacement refs) made ultimately have not lead to the direct win or loss of a game, yet, YET, but as long as they're out there, it's only a matter of time before it happens.
Not very much time, apparently. Last night, on ESPN's hallmark game of Monday Night Football, the final play of the game and ultimately the outcome was decided by the referees. Clear offensive pass interference was not called. An interception was called a touchdown because the offensive player was able to keep a hand on the ball when the Green Bay defender had clear possession. Seattle is given a win. Don't hold back, coach Herm Edwards. Tell us what you really think.
We always talk about the shield and protecting the integrity of football. And we talk about the game. We want to talk about the game. We're not talking about the game right now. That's not, that's not good for the National Football League. We should be talking about the game and not the officials.
But we are talking about the officials, and the fact that they have undercut the integrity of the game. At current point, the NFL appears more like Calvinball than it does football, and has little more integrity. San Francisco is awarded 4 challenges? The Niners and Seahawks get extra time outs? This is not professional sport. And that's where the discussion should focus.
NFL football is a sport, where individuals compete given a specific set of rules, rules that with the scabs have become arbitrary. But the NFL is professional sport, a business generating over 11 billion dollars a year. That money comes from fans, and as a fan, I'm getting ripped off when the professional integrity has left the game. Schefter makes a huge point when he indicates that there is no accountability for the scabs. Lo, a few years ago, the Denver Broncos got a win because the officials blew a fumble call on Jay Cutler. Ed 'muscles' Hochuli took responsibility for the call, announced that they'd blown it in real time, and faced the consequences. He was removed as the head of officials. Without the NFL officials being organized as a labor group, no such accountability can be had. These 'replacements' are accountable only to those who pay them to keep the game going, regardless of performance.
I have compassion for the 'replacements'. They are getting to live a dream. But that isn't where my money should go. My money should go to supporting the professional sport I love, with professionals playing, coaching, administrating and officiating. These people are not professionals. They are mercenaries hired to put pressure on the professionals and keep the profit flowing. They are not "replacement officials". They obviously aren't qualified to be, yet. As a fan, would you want the crew from last night officiating the Super Bowl? Didn't think so. As much as I feel for these folks, they are nothing more than Scabs, people called in to maintain an illusion of integrity that favors the money folk ripping us off for sub-standard product. I don't really understand why the money men don't get this. This isn't just about the mega-bucks Super Bowl or even the playoffs. There is enough parity in the NFL that the scabs last night may have decided that the Seahawks make the playoffs and the Green Bay Packers sit home in January. As long as non-professionals keep calling the rules of the game, the integrity of the sport is questionable to non-existent.
Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe has pointed out on the Twitters that only those who pay can force this issue to move. People need to boycott until they get the product they were promised. And so I will. I live 600 miles from the closest NFL venue, that of my beloved Broncos. I can't give up my seat at the games. But here's what I can do:
I refuse to call the replacement officials "replacement officials". They are scabs. Calling them "replacement officials" tacitly agrees they can do the job when obviously they can't. I will not support owners by cow-towing to their preferred terminology.
I am dropping the NFL package on my cable service until this labor dispute resolved. I'm not getting what I paying for anyway.
I will not participate in the Fantasy Football league I am commissioner of. If I am required by other team managers to take action, I will. I owe that to them, not Yahoo or the NFL. But I will not update my team or participate beyond the necessary.
I will not watch NFL Football. I have college football and the Bobcats to keep me company. There is still some integrity in that.
Before any smug asshole tells me that my boycott is useless, let me state upfront, I don't care. I boycott Walmart and haven't shopped anything there in years. It certainly doesn't affect the Waltons but it serves me. There will never be any integrity to Walmart, china producing asshole America haters as they are. But integrity can return to the NFL. All we have to do is tell them that we don't like their sub-standard product. I urge any reader who loves football to join me. We deserve better. Let's let the owners know that.