I was kicking around the idea of writing about the replacement refs this week. During this past week I was going to write about how the replacement refs were struggling with calls, but at least it was consistent. It seemed to favor the defenses by the way they consistently missed illegal contact down the field and let things get chippy. Believe it or not I was pretty fine with this development. I don't think it favored the Packers, but it was refreshing to see some good old fashioned smash mouth football.
Then week 3 happened. Then the refs lost all control....and worse they lost all consistency. There were phantom calls all over the place this weekend. Players were taking advantage of the unprepared refs by getting late shots in, slowing down the game, and pushing the limits of what was seen and what wasn't seen. It got so bad that the refs even screwed up a field goal call in prime time. It couldn't get any worse right?
Yeah, it did. What happened in Seattle was a farce and an embarrassment to the NFL. No offense against the Seahawks or their fans (well some hate towards Pete Carroll - screw that guy), but that game should have been a Packers win. But it's not. My best advice? Get over it now. Try as best you can to forget it, because you know what? The NFL (and replacement refs) don't care one bit about how things went down this week.
You are going to hear a phrase again and again....integrity of the game. It's not really a defined phrase, but it comes out when the powers that be want to reassure you that things aren't fixed and the NFL is a legit sport. It also comes out when people get all weepy about the beauty of football itself and how the sport can grow and thrive. I guarantee you that Roger Goddell is going to say it at least ten times this week in public addresses. He's going to talk about how the integrity of the game is important to him and the league. They are lying. They don't care.
You'll probably hear this week some of the locked out refs appeal to the NFL to end the labor dispute. They will also talk about the integrity of the game, how it's being threatened, how they truly care about the damage being done. They are lying. They don't care.
A funny thing happens in negotiations when the conversation stops being about rational quantifiable things...that's when lies and stupid decisions creep up. The lies aren't often malicious, and often those telling the lies are lying to themselves as much as they are lying to the other party. This is where people want to "win" rather than find a solution. Like it or not that's where things are with the NFL and its refs, and that means we are going to be more farces like the one we saw last night without the NFL or the real refs shedding a tear over the outcome.
Let's hope next time it goes against a different team.