NFL fans on both sides of the aisle hope the refs' lockout is settled soon. -bo— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) September 25, 2012
When it comes to wanting the regular referees back in the NFL, President Obama is unison with, of all people, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), who took on the state's public employee unions when he first took office and survived a recall vote this past June. Common ground at last. Obama's tweet came this afternoon. Walker was on Twitter this morning supporting a return of locked out, unionized referees. A Walker spokesman said it was more an issue of "ending bad officiating."
Republicans and Democrats in agreement on something.
That's the silver lining to this lockout. The situation must be serious.
There's your cue, Robert Kraft.
Time to end this madness, at least on the field.
Pick up the phone. Fly to New York. Hop on the train.
This isn't critical mass. This is splitting the atom, discovering electricity and coming up with the theory of relativity while being wiped out by the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs.
In just the past 36 hours, the NFL has seen its two showcase games be decided on either questionable/bad/horrible calls, depending on your team colors. The replacement refs, who are well-meaning but completely overwhelmed, have been openly ripped during both the NBC and ESPN national telecasts. Al Michaels coming out against the use of replacement refs Sunday was like Walter Cronkite coming out against the Vietnam War, except no one supports these replacements. They apparently weren't even good enough for the Lingere Football League. The trash talk continued Monday from Jon Gruden on ESPN after the "game-winning interception" thrown by Seattle QB Russell Wilson.
Kraft was widely credited for ending the brief NFL lockout last summer. He carries megatons of clout across the league. The difference between the referees and the league in this matter is roughly $3.2 million (a $38,500 yearly contribution to the pension of each current official), or $100,000 per team. That's it. $100,000. Write the check yourself, Mr. Kraft, and end this madness. Pick up Jerry Jones along the way. The owners have been kept out of these negotiations between the NFL and the referees' union. It's time the owners kick down the door and walk into those Park Avenue offices screaming for a settlement.
Roger Goodell works for Kraft. Actually, he works for us. Kraft knows where the money comes from. Fans pay those massive television rights fees by watching games and spending billions on the products that sponsor the telecasts. Fans buy tickets, merchandise, stadium food and everything else that is NFL. Fans will continue to watch these games, to a point. Soon, each team will have a game or two that its fans can point to that was ruined by a non-call or bad call from a replacement official. Once the games lose credibility, the fans won't be far behind. No one watched replacement players in 1987 (I know, I was there). Soon, no one will be watching replacement officials, either.
The NFL is standing firm in its idiocy, saying early Tuesday afternoon that the call was reviewed by the league office and will not be overturned.
This season's NFL record book and Super Bowl champion will have more asterisks next its entries than Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa combined.
We've seen perhaps the most respected, if not intimidating coach in the NFL, grab a referee after a game because he wanted a call reviewed. The players, as was evident Sunday night and again Monday, are playing with blatant disregard for the officials. It's become a case of "Catch Me if You Can" on every play.
How did it get to this— Justin Tuck (@JustinTuckNYG91) September 25, 2012
How crazy is it? Well, the Red Sox showed amazing professionalism and class with Johnny Pesky's (somewhat belated) memorial service Sunday night. The unity, grace and elegance of the ceremony, combined with the appearances of the likes of Pedro Martinez, Carlton Fisk, Bill Lee and even Roger "Reform Tour" Clemens - alongside the current players - was a nice reminder of what the Red Sox can be. And why so many fans love still love that franchise, if not this team.
Just a few hours later, the Patriots imploded in Baltimore, their coach/mastermind lost his mind after a night of bad calls, bad play-calling and poor execution as the local gridders fell under .500 for the first time in nine years. And their fans aren't the only ones irate and befuddled by what's going on.
The Red Sox are the model of professionalism and the NFL is a laughingstock. (Are you listening, Mr. Kraft?)
Even worse in the long term for everyone involved in these NFL games is the fact that the players have no respect for the replacements. Substitute teachers, step-dads and 12-year-old babysitters are treated with more deference. Without basic respect for the officials, this current situation cannot reasonably continue. There's no way to know for sure if regular referees would have called Sunday night's game between the Patriots and Ravens any differently, at least on the game's final questionable kick. Monday night's fiasco was a no-brainer for the guy who referees your kid's Pop Warner League.
Then there is the torrent of player anger on Twitter.
This daring, heated, angry and profane public response from the players should catch the attention of Goodell and the owners, alike.
Any player/coach in Seattle that really thinks they won that game has zero integrity as a man and should be embarrassed.— TJ Lang (@TJLang70) September 25, 2012
The Packers' guard delivered the ultimate "Triple Dog Dare" with the above pair of tweets: "Got f---- by the refs.. Embarrassing. Thanks nfl" - which got more than 65,000 retweets. And when he later added: "F---- it NFL.. Fine me and use the money to pay the regular refs," that picked up 78,000 retweets.
Only thing I regret from my tweets are the F bombs.. Sorry bout that.— TJ Lang (@TJLang70) September 25, 2012
Guard Josh Sitton also took issue with Monday night's madness, demanding that the NFL apologize. Seahawks receiver Golden Tate didn't earn any points, either. "Golden tate is full of s--- too. Saying he clearly caught that is embarrassing! F---- jokers!"
Among the printable Tweets:
13th man beat us tonight.— Tom Crabtree (@TCrabtree83) September 25, 2012
I've been saying give the refs a break but that TD call was ridicules. How do you miss that? Pop Warner refs would have gotten that right.— Tony Gonzalez (@TonyGonzalez88) September 25, 2012
If the refs can do that than @jonvilma51 should be able to play next game .....— MikeMcKenzie34ways (@MikeMcKenzie34w) September 25, 2012
This is what the NFL has come down to, &yet they tell you to respect the shield! Lol. But they'll try to fine us for everything thing we do.— DARNELL DOCKETT (@ddockett) September 25, 2012
I love this league and love the game of football, but tonight's debacle hurts me greatly. This is NOT the league we're supposed to represent— Drew Brees (@drewbrees) September 25, 2012
Refs single handedly blew this one...— Reggie Bush (@reggie_bush) September 25, 2012
For the NFL to tell u as the fans there is nothing wrong with these officials is a slap in the face to u!!!! #ReplacementRefs— Chris Harris (@ChrisHarrisNFL) September 25, 2012
Drama. Great for business. Godspeed, Ed Hochuli.— Arian Foster (@ArianFoster) September 25, 2012
Others have noticed, too:
These replacement refs gotta go man!! Packers just got game took from them. I LOVE NFL football to much to see this type of work.— LeBron James (@KingJames) September 25, 2012
Need we say more, sir?
Don't forget to join us Oct. 7 at 4 p.m. for our in-game Patriots-Broncos fan chat. (We'll be away next weekend looking for the real officials). As always, let us know what you think. Post your thoughts here, on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page or e-mail me firstname.lastname@example.org. And don't forget to follow us on Twitter @realOBF. Thanks for reading. Pass the clicker.
The author is solely responsible for the content.