First our government. Now our football: NFL scab refs must go

Just great.
First I lost faith in my state government officials. Now I have no faith in my NFL officials.

So what is up?

Tweets and photos suggest that protesters have gathered outside of Lambeau Field since midnight last night and into the morning.

Their protest is an immediate response to a horrible call against the Packers but frankly some kind of protest was inevitable given the disgracefully bad officiating of all NFL games in the past 3 weeks by replacement refs, or as many of us call them “scab refs”.

Just to be clear: All NFL fans are angry. Not just Packer fans. This is evidenced by conversations on reddit, by paying attention to any NFL tweets at all in the past 3 weeks, and by reading the ESPN page, for example.

It’s becoming more clear exactly why the refs are of low caliber with the news that three NFL replacement refs were fired from Pac-12. But really, who of us could do a better job? [official rule book can be downloaded here – if you’d like to take a crack at memorizing it]

The professional referees, who are in a union, are locked out of working on NFL games. They are not on a strike as many people mistakenly assume. NFL owners and refs have been negotiating since June.

Why are NFL team owners and refs at an impasse?

*It’s primarily about owners trying to destroy the refs’ pension fund.
*It’s also about salary. Possibly compsensating refs up to $189,000 up from $150,000
*Adding extra officiating crews.
*And there’s negotiation over bringing on some full-time refs
from C.S.Monitor

The professional NFL refs have a defined-benefit pension package, which is becoming a rarity today. Other NFL employees have a 401K.

Here’s a comment from the currently much reviled NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell:

“From the owners’ standpoint, right now they’re funding a pension program that is a defined benefit program,” said Goodell, who was in Washington on Wednesday attending a luncheon hosted by Politico’s Playbook. “About ten percent of the country has that. Yours truly doesn’t have that. It’s something that doesn’t really exist anymore and that I think is going away steadily.”

In response, Charles P. Pierce of Esquire calls Goodell a 1%-er and says:
“Defined-benefits pensions “don’t really exist” anymore because of deliberate acts of politicians that encouraged their wholescale destruction by American business.”

Salon’s Paul F. Campos goes a bit farther to say that the NFL owners are in love with Ayn Rand.

Campos says that the owners want to keep an extra “four thousand dollars in revenues per game out of their cozy little nine billion dollar per year cartel arrangement”.

Ideology and name-calling aside, to the owners, that sum is as insignificant as a penny on the sidewalk is to you and I.

Why are people so mad over this particular game – the Seahawks/Green Bay game?

There have been many scab ref bad calls and rules screw-ups documented within the last 3 weeks. But this is the most outrageously bad and clearly game-changing play that has been witnessed.

“Seahawks receiver Golden Tate was awarded a touchdown on the final play after a scrum on the ground in the end zone. Packers safety M.D. Jennings appeared to catch the ball against his body, with Tate getting his arm around the ball.

After a few seconds, one official indicated a stoppage of play, but another signaled touchdown for a conclusion former NFL coach Jon Gruden, working the game on TV, called “tragic” and “comical.””

A bit more on the calls is in this piece.

You probably have to see it to believe it.

Here it is from one angle.

On the ground:

The video:

Corruption

Let’s say fans do not care about the pensions of the refs. Or unions. They do all care about the integrity of the game. Use of temporary and unprofessional refs opens the sport up to corruption.

“One hundred thousand dollars to fix a game is a lot of money to the regular officials, but if you compare that to their potential career earnings it’s a very small amount of money,” says Bell. “With the replacements, even $20,000 to fix a game is more than they stand to make from the NFL in their entire lives.

“There really is an economic model here that not only makes it possible, but very likely that someone will be corrupted.”

That’s a fair assessment, says Dr. Lia Nower, director of the Center for Gambling Studies at Rutgers University.

More at usatoday

What can you and I do about it?

I’m open to more ideas. Here’s what I can locate and suggest to you:

Sign a petition.

You can leave a message for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell at 212 450 2027.

Attend a rally at Lambeau Field at 12 Noon Central on Sunday
Facebook event: PACKERS RALLY/Strike Against the NFL & the Officials.

Ponder this:
The replacement refs, assuming the lockout is not over, will be heading into Lambeau Field next Sunday.

Somebody needs to order up extra security.

A Plea:
Even though it sucks to see Walker say shit like the tweet below, we should be careful to not make this all about him. He would just love that attention as all textbook trolls do.

This is about returning professional, reliable referees to a sport that I enjoy. That America enjoys.

It certainly is a good time to toss in a point or two about why we might support union labor and some stability in a workforce that is professional and experienced. Could be the time when public unions can say hey – let me tell you more about what kind of safety is provided for me by my union, and so on.

Maybe this is the time to explain why pension funds are much better than 401Ks, for example.

What have the players done about this situation?

They sent a scathing letter to Goodell and the NFL owners which starts with this language, “The NFL Players Association Executive Committee is calling on you to end the lockout of our referees. We believe there is substantial evidence that you have failed in your obligation to provide as safe a working environment as possible.” and also calls the owners “greedy”.

I’ve read in multiple sources that the players can not by their contract strike and that there are terms in their contract which make it clear the owners are responsible for providing safety on the field.

Part of what’s supposed to provide increased safety are updates in rules that should prevent concussions and those rules would be officiated by the refs.

“The NFL has changed a number of concussion-related rules since 2010 including heavy fines and strict enforcement for helmet-to-helmet contact, “defenseless player” protection from head impacts, and in 2011, declaration of a dead ball if a runner’s helmet comes off during a play.”
source sportsconcussions.org

A case can be soundly made that these scab replacement refs are not capable of confidently making new safety calls while they continue to mix up high school, college, arena, and NFL rules.

Full Letter from Players to Owners and Goodell:
DATE: September 20, 2012
RE: Your Lockout of the NFL Referees and the Negative Impact on Football

More reading:
The NFL Fired Nine Former Officials When They Refused To Train Replacement Refs

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