It took me a while to figure out why the NFL’s hardballing of their existing referees was flat out bugging me so much.
In my head, I know it will get resolved. Eventually.
And given the utter sh**show we’ve been treated to so far, I don’t think the NFL can last until Week 2 of the regular season like they did back in 2001.
For starters, back then Division I refs were allowed to moonlight during the lockout by the NCAA, and they were not afraid of being blackballed forever as scabs.
No go on both of those fronts this time.
Which has given us the “We’ll Remember His Name Forever” Craig Ochoa. The man who was fired from the Lingerie Football League.
Naturally, the NFL is even quibbling with that, saying he wasn’t really “fired.” Whatever.
So I was wondering why this power play by the Shield so bothered me, and then I realized: the NFL has become “that guy.”
A schmuck. A total, and complete SCHMUCK.
The NFL is the guy who grabs two fistfuls of free golf tees, at the nice country club you were invited to play by somebody who is a member. With the head pro, watching him take all those tees and stuff them in his bag.
The NFL is the dad who is already spending $4,000 on a family vacation, but INSISTS on parking the family in off-airport super-remote parking – because it is $5 cheaper per day!
The NFL is the schmuck whose cheapness and vindictiveness is not just embarrassing to be around, they are genuinely ruining what should be a fun experience for everyone.
As football fans, we are all excited for good ol’ cranium rattling action to commence.
But for god’s sake, do you REALLY have to troll the LFL for scab refs, Roger Goodell, just so you can break the back of Gene Steratore and Ed Hochuli?
Really? Oh, yes?
NFL referees are the best refs in the world. Their sport is the most violent, fast moving, complicated, and highly scrutinized in the world. It is not even close.
And the rule book has become a larded up joke, full of obscure concepts, prinicples, and conditionally off-setting penalties and definitions.
The argument about them being “part time” is the biggest canard in the book. They are “part time” only because the league can’t play games all year long. They would have literally nothing to do from February to August.
This is not a paper route for these guys to make some extra cash. This is the culmination of a life’s work in the field of football officiating. The road to wearing NFL stripes is arguably as much of a longshot as the road to playing in the league.
So what do the refs want? A bump in pay in line with the last negotiation (between 6-12%) and a continuation of their benefits, like their pension.
The Mighty Shield, multi-billion dollar industry that it is, says that’s way too much. In fact, they are looking to PHASE OUT things like the ref’s pension plan.
In the meantime, Craig Ochoa is stumbling over calling Atlanta “Arizona” – not once, but twice – this pre-season.
Goodell and the owners nickel-and-diming an essential component of their product, that somehow, only THEY don’t see as essential.
Let’s hope fans take this lesson, and begin to nickel-and-dime the league back in every way they can.