Greedy Goodell and the Folly of the Replacement Referees
Posted by Mejdy Jabr on Tuesday, September 25, 2012
I’ll get to the Monday Night debacle from last night in a moment, but I’d like to connect it with what I experienced on Sunday live at a game and at home watching one first.
If you’ve read this blog before, then it should come as no surprise to you that I’m a fan of the New Orleans Saints.
I’ve been a season ticket holder since 2006 (technically 2005), and I’ve actually been frequenting the Superdome since 2001.
In that time, I’ve come away from some games grossly disappointed with my team. Those of you who remember the Brooks-Haslett era and before that time know, especially, what I’m talking about.
This past Sunday, September 23rd, 2012, is a day that I’ll now always remember as having been the first time that I left the Superdome feeling as though I wasted my money.
While the team’s performance was atrocious, I would never call watching my team in any capacity a waste of money. Fans generally have an idea of what they’re going to watch when they buy a ticket to see their team. If your team sucks, there’s a good chance that you’re not going to witness the most stellar collection of performers. Usually, when this happens, ticket sales decrease, and the organization will feel pressured to improve the product it’s presenting to its customers.
If they could get away with it, owners would never spend grand sums of money on coaches, GMs, scouts, players, etc. Why would they need to? If people sat back and accepted a poor product as valid and continued showing their support for it with their wallets, it would be impractical from a business perspective to waste money on improving the product.
But we don’t allow that collectively, do we?
The Saints, pre-Brees/Payton, never even whiffed a season ticket sell-out. Instantly, when the product improved, everyone wanted to be a part of the magic. Everyone wanted to pay for a great product.
Many, including myself, often consider those who choose to boycott their team’s poor performance to be “fair-weather fans.” We are there through thick and thin.
We are the true, loyal fans.
We don't dig any loyalties with the NFL. It's specifically a bond between us and our respective teams.
Saints’ fans, particularly more than fans of other teams this year, will be an interesting group to observe in 2012 because, if the team continues to perform as poorly as they have through the first three weeks of the season, they’ll likely begin to let Benson know about how they feel with their wallets.
The distinction between the Saints and, say, a team like the Raiders is that the Saints' poor performance is not solely due to the organization itself. Sure, the personnel and coaching looks sloppy at times, but let's not forget the true catalyst for the product that Saints fans are seeing in 2012.
At the Superdome this weekend, I had the displeasure of watching what happens when you put professional players in an unprofessional atmosphere.
Replacement Coach. Replacement Referees. Pro players.
And who’s the man behind the curtain for all of it? Mr. Roger Goodell.
While all NFL fans should be outraged by what we’ve seen from the NFL thus far, Saints fans should be particularly upset. Here are some brief chronicles in the life of this fan at the Superdome on Sunday in Goodell’s NWO NFL.
- Texted two friends around 1:30 PM about whether or not Pierre Thomas’ TD, which was being reviewed, would hold up. They weren’t showing any replay of it in the Superdome. Normally, this only happens if a replay could be beneficial to the other team, but in this case, it’s common courtesy to the fans there to let them try to figure out what they think of the play. Conveniently, the refs overturned the call. One of my buddies asked me why the crowd didn’t give a more violent reaction. I didn’t understand why he was asking me that because I gave the benefit of the doubt to the officials. Another one of my friends, fellow Spin IT contributor Jonathan “Chin” Palazzolo, sent me the following:
“All video evidence at home shows him having his hand under the ball. The announcers said there was nowhere near enough evidence to overturn it. I agree… Man, f*** these officials.”
It was at this moment that I began to have a conspiracy vibe. The Saints wound up missing the ensuing field goal and went into the half up 4 instead of 11.
- Over the course of the second half, as the Saints started to fall apart, there began to be more scrutiny on the referees. Missed holds. Bad interference calls. Fans started growing restless. Everyone in my section, and through the stadium from what I heard afterwards, started playing referee. Even when they made the right calls, I found myself compelled to question it if it was too far away for me to make a judgment call on it myself. I trusted friends watching on their televisions more than the referees at what was supposed to be a professional football game.
This is the fundamental flaw underlying the entire situation with the replacement officials. Even the best of the regular officials were prone to human error, but the fact that the current replacements are literally expected to be purely erroneous all of the time is a problem. Even if the referees get everything right next week, the trust will not be there, and because some of these calls can sometimes be in the grey, there will be violent reactions to calls and an eventual feeling of apathy amongst fans. That apathy will stem from the fact that this season, in many ways, could be argued as null and void if the refs don’t return in time.
- As the Chiefs came back, it was clearly the time when a team looks to its coach for a sense of calm level-headedness. They look for the man who is in control, and that was not Aaron Kromer. That’s because he is a replacement as well. Actually, he is a replacement’s replacement. His playcalling towards the end of the game was lackluster, and the offense looked lackadaisical with dropped balls and missed blocking assignments.
The lesser product being given to customers of the NFL in New Orleans can almost be solely blamed on Roger Goodell. The loss of Sean Payton is a big reason for the offensive struggles, but that’s no secret.
The best kept secret is this: Goodell also sabotaged the Saints defense. We lost two draft picks along with the suspensions. Right now, if this defense had one CB better than Pat Robinson (which certainly could have been found anywhere in the first two rounds of this year's draft) and another player as talented as Cam Jordan somewhere on our front four, there’s no way the team would be 0-3.
- I think it's also worth noting, for those of you who didn't attend an NFL home game over the weekend, that the Pierre Thomas incident wasn't the only form of referee propaganda blatantly employed during the game. There were other instances in which they wouldn't show us a replay of a call that was under review until maybe a minute before the refs stopped reviewing it. My guess is that the stadium itself, with Tom Benson siding with against the official officials in the lockout, waited to make sure that the refs were completely comfortable with the call they were going to make. The "tough calls" from the second quarter and beyond were never replayed.
Meanwhile, the overhead screen did a great job of replaying all of the obvious false starts that the refs were getting right while even zooming in on the specific player who obviously jumped first. Thanks for that!
After the loss, I came home in time to watch the Night Game between the Ravens and the Pats and witnessed another lifetime's worth of bad calls and missed calls. Somehow, though, the referees had topped their own extremely low standards by cowardly running off the field while ignoring Coach Bill Belichick. Out of frustration, Belichick grabbed one of them and practically demanded a review of the kick that had just sent the Pats to a 1-2 record.
Until the final play of the game, the MNF game presented nothing new. Bad calls. Missed calls. We’ve been over this.
But then, something different did happen. The officials tangibly controlled the fate of the game.
And now, the referee issue has come to its inevitable climax.
Let’s go under the hypothetical that Golden Tate’s brutal offensive pass interference didn’t happen. So, we’re pretending that the only thing to focus on was the jump ball.
|Packers Fan (left) and Seahawks Fan (right) at an impasse.|
First of all, I think the jump ball should have been called as an interception in favor of Green Bay. However, despite what most other media outlets will have you believe, the NFL and Pete Carrol do make compelling cases using the rulebook as guidelines for their opinions on why it was a catch. This would have been a controversial call with official officials. The difference is that the trust would still be there for those officials. People would be talking about it, but at least you wouldn’t have had one moron who was signaling touchdown as the other moron signaled otherwise.
Also, to the contrarians whom I've seen lurking in forums today, you’re foolish if you’re simply chalking this up to “media hype.” This is a quintessential example of an evil conglomerate once again finding a way to ruin something that good, hard-working people have loved since their childhood.
But why? Why do Goodell and friends continue to lock out their referees? Well, I’ll let Peter King of SI.com explain that one:
“Over the last five years, the league has contributed, on average, about $5.3 million per year to the officials' pension plan. The league, in keeping with the current cost-cutting practice of corporations across America, no longer wants to guarantee how much each official would get in retirement, but rather tie the contributions to a 401(k)-type pension. That would save the league about $3.3 million per year.
Many would say that giving part-time officials a pension contribution of $12,500 per year is sufficient. But the locked-out officials look at it this way: The league is more prosperous than it ever has been and more profitable than it ever has been. What is the justification for cutting pensions by 60 percent in a booming football economy?”
That’s right, the billion-dollar industry that is the NFL is allowing all of this commotion to save $3.3 million a year. In NFL terms, that’s the kind of money that individual players argue over with individual teams.
I haven’t been fazed or outraged by any of this stuff since Week 1, though. I’m on the verge of not even going to Saints games this year, especially if I can sell my ticket at a high price to some sap that wants to pay big money for an unprofessional game. I’ll still be watching the games on tv, but why should I let Goodell and his owner-thugs rip me off?
Roger Goodell, as I’ve said before, does not care about player safety. He does not care about “the shield.” And as long as you continue to watch the games on tv or, especially, at the stadiums of the teams which you lovingly support, he doesn’t care about you. The only thing he cares about is money.
There are already rumors going around the Internet that Packers fans at Lambeau will leave the stadium at halftime of this Sunday's game against the Saints in support of the official officials.
That's a great gesture, but these fans need to keep in mind that they would only be doing a disservice to themselves in giving away their hard earned money for only one half of football.
I am not calling for a boycott. I don't have the influence to do something like that, but plenty of others with the influence are already doing so. In regards to the boycotts, though, if you are going to take a real stand against a very greedy group of men, there's only one way to properly do so. The protests can't just be allegorical; they have to be expressed tangibly. They have to be with your wallets.
Follow us on Twitter @spinitreacts