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Volume 24 No. 156
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Calls Increase For Goodell To End Referee Lockout Following "MNF" Debacle

The NFL referee situation "reached a critical mass" with last night's Packers-Seahawks game, and there is "no question that the league has to swallow its pride and do something that Commissioner Roger Goodell simply doesn't want to do, and that is to give in more on negotiations than he's had to do with either his TV partners or the players," according to NBC's Peter King. Appearing on NBC's "Today" show, King said, "It was only a matter of time before something like last night happened." Host Matt Lauer asked, "So your message to Commissioner Goodell this morning is 'Pick up the phone, get this done?'" King: "Absolutely. I think that's the message of 1,800 players in the NFL, it's the message of all the coaching staffs. I think they have to give in on a major issue like pension, and they've got to get this settled this week" ("Today," NBC, 9/25). In L.A., Bill Plaschke in a plea to Goodell writes, “Give it up. Settle this labor dispute. Settle it now. Your power play didn't work. … Prove that you really respect the game more than you need to win this labor fight.” He adds, “End this lockout before it further damages the season while indelibly staining your legacy” (L.A. TIMES, 9/25). ABC's Josh Elliott said, "For the good of the game, the integrity of the game, and the safety of the players, get the referees back on the field" ("GMA," ABC, 9/25).

: In Jacksonville, Gene Frenette writes the NFL’s “integrity just got body-slammed because a heritage franchise, the Packers, had a victory taken from them that will go down as one of the greatest miscarriages of football justice.” The ball is “in Goodell’s court now,” as suspect officiating has “finally cost a team a victory.” Goodell has to “end this ugly spectacle because the NFL is officially looking like a laughingstock in the eyes of a lot of people” (, 9/25). In Seattle, Steve Kelley writes as “great as this win was for Seattle ... the final play was a huge embarrassment for the league.” This is the “result of the deal with the devil the NFL made.” The Seahawks’ win “should be remembered as the Hail Mary that ended a labor dispute” (SEATTLE TIMES, 9/25). The AP’s Jim Litke writes of last night’s game, “If you tried to stage a photograph to symbolize the confusion that's dogged the NFL and its games since commissioner Roger Goodell let a lockout of the regular officials spill over into the regular season, you couldn't have done it any better.” If the NFL “were a hamburger chain, Goodell would have been fired on the spot” (AP, 9/25).

LEAGUE DAMAGING THE BRAND: ESPN's Trent Dilfer said the commissioner's office for 10 years "has been coming into these NFL locker rooms saying, 'We’ll do anything to protect the shield, anything. We will exhaust every opportunity to protect this brand.' It’s ironic that you, the NFL, is what’s screwing this brand up.” He added, "At some point, pull your head out and realize what you’re doing to the game” ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 9/24).’s Bill Reiter writes, “This, Roger Goodell, is what you’ve wrought: The low point of the NFL. A great big heaping pile of dog doo staining the shield. A multibillion-dollar game that has turned from national obsession to total mockery in a few short weeks” (, 9/25).In N.Y., Mike Vaccaro writes, “So how do you like your league now, Roger Goodell? … Your scabs have now bled all over your product. Congratulations” (N.Y. POST, 9/25).’s Chris Burke writes, “Who knows what was going through Roger Goodell’s head on Monday night as he fiddled while the integrity of his league burned to the ground” (, 9/25).’s Charles Pierce wrote Goodell “should take his entire 2012 salary and split every dime of it up among the players in the National Football League, because they are the ones he's putting at risk and they are the only ones keeping the NFL from descending into a form of opéra bouffe that would embarrass roller derby” (, 9/24).

MAKE GOOD, GOODELL: YAHOO SPORTS’ Dan Wetzel notes it is the “owners who employ Goodell,” but at “some point, Goodell has to lead his bosses.” A great commissioner “doesn't stand around and let his league continue on as a laughingstock.” This is Goodell's “Heidi game, a forever blemish he'll never live down.” Wetzel: “The replacement ref experiment is a disaster. It has overwhelmed the league. It's overshadowed strong play. It's turned Goodell's vaunted shield into a joke” (, 9/25). ESPN's Bob Ley wrote on his Twitter feed, "Goodell's 'Heidi game'? it's worse. equivalent to Rozelle allowing NFL to play days after JFK assassination. great legacy carried scar 4ever" (, 9/25).