NFL's Decision To Risk League's Credibility During Ref Lockout Remains Puzzling
Fans that have watched an NFL game this season "now knows how important qualified officials are to the league," but it is harder to figure out "why the owners and commissioner Roger Goodell were willing to risk their credibility to save a few bucks," according to Jeffri Chadiha of ESPN.com. This is a league "that has been touting integrity for years in ways that sounded so convincing to the general public," but that "tough talk began to sound like cheap banter in just three weeks." Chadiha: "The thing we shouldn't do so quickly is completely forgive the NFL for this disaster. We should let it be a reminder of how hypocritical this league can be when it comes to espousing its values" (ESPN.com, 9/27). In N.Y., Filip Bondy writes, “Was it worth the black eye? Of course not.” The “stubborn foolishness of this particular lockout may well exceed anything that has come before” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/27). CBSSPORTS.com’s Mike Freeman writes under the header, “End Of Referee Lockout Is Cause For Celebration, But Nobody Won This Ugly Battle.” This was a “process that didn't need to be done.” NFL owners “attempted to break the referee union for a few extra bucks and came close to wrecking a season” (CBSSPORTS.com, 9/27). A Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL editorial states the “real blunder was the NFL's, for ever allowing such amateurs to take the field for such a crucial role” (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 9/27). ESPNW’s Jane McManus wrote the “union-busting experiment has failed” (ESPNW.com, 9/26). In S.F., Ann Killion writes the end of the lockout “caused the NFL to eat some humble pie.” But even a “little humility is a very good thing for the NFL,” as Goodell and his “merry band of owners considered themselves the Untouchables.” Killion: “The NFL has finally proved fallible” (S.F. CHRONICLE, 9/27).
NO HARM, NO FOUL: NFL Network's Jeff Darlington said the NFL will not be “tarnished” by the replacement officials and he does not believe "anybody is going to not watch" because of the replacements' performance. Darlington: "Ultimately I don’t think they lost any fans and things will move forward for the NFL without any hiccups” (“NFL AM,” NFL Network, 9/27). SPORTS ON EARTH's Shaun Powell writes, "The shield has not been tarnished ... because that suggests it’ll never be restored." Powell: "Do you really believe that? The NFL may be the only entity in this country that can survive anything. ... The NFL is part of the family, and no matter how much it misbehaves, there’s always a seat waiting at the dinner table. In time, this too shall pass" (SPORTSONEARTH.com, 9/27). In Miami, Greg Cote writes nothing can “kill sports because we addicted fans are more resilient than any other breed of consumer” (MIAMI HERALD, 9/27).
BEHIND THE SCENES: In L.A., Bill Dwyre writes the decision was “business, not emotion.” This was about “getting off the front page, and back onto the sports pages, where the faithful followers can be brought back into line quickly and beer sales stay good.” Dwyre: “The longer your missteps and greed are at noise levels above the cheering for touchdowns and pass completions, the more quickly the image you seek of high-class, fan-friendly entertainment gets pushed aside for the reality that you are, first and foremost, the greediest kind of corporate America.” Dwyre adds, “Give Goodell credit. He has one of the best, and hardest jobs in the world. He also responds” (L.A. TIMES, 9/27). ESPN.com’s Jeff MacGregor wrote the real officials are back “thanks to the gravitational pull of the money bet on U.S. football.” The end of the lockout “wasn't about integrity or love of the game or player safety or the fans or even the quality of the product on the field.” This was about a “game so poorly officiated by scabs that sportsbooks were refunding money -- because an NFL game looked crooked.” This deal got done “because without real officials, real money can't trust the NFL” (ESPN.com, 9/26).
BRING IT ON: SPORTING NEWS’ Clifton Brown wrote it is “time for the union officials to prove themselves.” That is the “climate regular officials are walking into, as they return to save our NFL season from further ruin.” Brown: “We are glad to have them back. That does not mean we will cut them slack. If anything, game officials will now be held to a higher standard” (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 9/26). ABC’s Josh Elliott jokingly said, “It’s good to know that now there will never, ever be another bad call in any NFL game ever” (“GMA,” ABC, 9/27). In Phoenix, Bob Young writes, “Upon further review, we've decided that we're going to miss the NFL's replacement referees.” Every week fans “had a feeling that something could go terribly wrong, and that we were watching a fiasco.” Young: “It did, and we were. The replacements turned the NFL into the Lindsay Lohan of professional leagues. We had to watch or risk missing their next clueless adventure” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 9/27).