Piling on. Isn’t that a penalty in football at any level? Yet that’s what’s been going on at every turn in most every conversation regarding the NFL replacement refs. Do they deserve it? Ask the pro refs that were locked out and they’d say the newbie’s deserve it. In fact, they have said they’re scabs. And are we getting to see the best of the best, which is the NFL brand promise? And are advertisers getting what they paid for?
So why did Roger Goodell and the owners lock the pro referees out in the first place? Greed. A few extra bucks in their pockets. And once the blown end zone call on Monday Night Football handed an undeserving win to the Seahawks and drove the President of the United States to comment, the owners felt the pressure to resolve the issue before it really gets even worse. For the first time since I can remember, and maybe never, at least one Vegas casino is offering a full refund to anyone that placed a bet on Green Bay to win Monday.
These poor fellas saw the chance to grab their 15 minutes of fame by reffering an NFL game or three, and went for it. Beats the Friday night high school circuit, right? Well, looking back at their performance, maybe not. They put themselves square in the spotlight with poor decisions, bad positioning to make a call, lack of knowledge of pro rules, and ignoring a basic premise that all refs should know to live by: Be in the background, not in the spotlight. Make sure the game is about the players and not about the referee.
Now we all know that some of these guys have never even worked a college game, much less being prepared for the fast-paced pro match-ups. Heck, one of the stand-ins was even fired from the Lingerie Bowl for being incompetent. However, I’ve never seen a love-fest for the old refs like what’s going on now. I mean, everybody hates refs, old OR new. That’s what makes the game fun.
The powers that be are excited to welcome back the muscle-bound Ed Hochuli and his team of seasoned pro refs. Now it starts to get fun. The teams are acting as if the pro refs are like a long lost friend returning home. Seriously? The NFL coaches and players loved the old refs. The old refs never made lousy calls? Give it about 5 minutes into the first game back and the old hatred from the sideline will rear its ugly head. But they can handle it now. They got their salary bump of about another $2,000 per month (remember that compares to a quarterback who gets nearly $1 million for one game). Did I mention greed? And yes, the fans will continue to pick up the tab for these extra expenses with $30 parking and $15 beer.
But through it all, did advertisers get shafted? Not a bit. If anything, this referee fiasco has driven up NFL season awareness higher than it’s been in recent memory. Even my wife knows there’s an officiating problem in the NFL, and I’m not sure she could even name half a dozen teams. That’s a score for the ad world.
At least now we can all get back to watching grown millionaires play a game on Sundays without having to worry about all the commentators and coaches whining, and the players trying to cheat while the novice refs aren’t looking. Or even when they are looking. I’ve had enough of the focus on the stripes on the shirts rather than the stripes on the field. Let’s get back to the days where all the refs were hated by all sides. It’s tradition. It’s just understood. I’m ready for the next blown call and the next NFL coach screaming obscenities in to a side judge’s ear. And I’d love to ask the coach right then if he’s glad they’re back.
Hey Hochuli… Spend some of that raise on some eyeglasses. Ya’ bum. Now I feel better.
- Mike Albrecht