When the real NFL ref’s do return – and I think it will be soon, fans will give referees a standing ovation! It’s never happened in the history of North American sports. It may be slightly sarcastic but I can assure that almost every single stadium hosting an NFL game will give the referees a stand ovation. It’s going to be absolutely hilarious because we’ve hated them for our entire lives and now we can’t wait to get them back.
I was thinking about this Monday night – terrible call obviously, Green Bay losing to Seattle. It was really a historic day as it was an absolute terrible call. Large corporations like the one I work for and like the one’s many of you reading this may work for – they always have more power than I do, you do and we regular workers do. Even if you’re a great employee, corporations have the power – it really stinks. But after Monday night’s Green Bay/Seattle butchered call, I believe it’s the first time in North America where part-time workers – remember, refs are part-timers. For the first time in North American history, part-time workers have more power than a major corporation because negotiations are all about “who has the leverage” Corporations have got the money, the brand. 99.5% of the time corporations have the negotiating leverage, rarely do you or I have it and that’s even if you’re good. But one of the ways you and I can get leverage from a big corporation is via bad press because they absolutely hate bad press, especially when it’s the worst kind of bad press – bad integrity press.
You can call ESPN all day “I don’t like what Skip Bayless said or what Stephen A. Smith said…Colin Cowherd is an idiot!” pfft they couldn’t give a rip about what you think. “I don’t like your programming, you shouldn’t have the Spelling Bee competition on” again, they couldn’t give a rip. But if you question their integrity you’ll have a bunch of suits running down the hall calling a big meeting. Did you hear what ESPN NFL Analyst Trent Dilfer said Monday night after the game? Where he basically said that you can sense now – especially after Monday night, where you’ve got 30 million people (estimate viewership of Monday night’s game) questioning the integrity of the NFL saying “The NFL has insulted my intelligence, has insulted your intelligence and everybody’s watching the game and the NFL is simply trying to tell us that this issue is not that big of a deal [refs lockout] and we have a multi-billion dollar machine and we’re letting this [ref blown call] ruin it, it’s ruining the very fabric of the game. You don’t hear Drew Brees – arguably the classiest guy in the NFL, come out and say what he said today [Monday] unless it’s a colossal issue. Players have never tweeted and done stuff out of such rebellion that they have been in, than today”
Whoa!! Worse kind of PR – integrity PR “you’ve got no integrity NFL” PR. I get emails, comments all day “I hate you, you don’t know what you’re talking about” etc my response? “So? I don’t give a rip” but if you question my integrity…that hurts! I don’t like that at all. “You stink, you’re a hag…” yeah whatever. But when you say that I have no integrity? That stings! Through 3 weeks, 16 games a week, via 47 games already played, the leverage has gone from the league to these part timers. Don’t get me wrong, there are still tiny rain drops of criticism like Harbough getting challenges he shouldn’t have been allowed, Lions/Giants/Bengals/Redskin games where the officials marched off too many yards on penalties – it’s little stuff though, little rain drops of criticism. Game # 48 Monday night? The roof caved in!! The complaints were all self-contained fires, Monday night however a 5 alarm, out of control ragger was created. 30 million people, Packers got hozzed, America loves the Packers , 47 games in which the NFL had leverage, game # 48 changes it all and gives it to the NFL refs. So the question now becomes: How much integrity heat does the NFL want to withstand?
I mean, you’ll still watch the games – its fall and you’re in Wisconsin, what are you going to do? Hit up the local Strawberries festival again? I mean seriously…what are you going to do? It’s the fall, it’s Wisconsin…you’re obviously going to watch the Packers! But again, how much is the NFL willing to digest because it’s certainly going to be awful. My gut feeling is that within the next 36 hours…it gets solved. The irony is that it took a really bad call to get the real guys back with more good calls and that’s usually the way negotiations work, where there is a tipping point. It’s as if someone came to replace me at work, but they weren’t as good, then my clients that I deal with start to complain to the corporation I worked for then my replacement drops an f-bomb, leverage then comes back to me. If you’re going to make a mistake as a ref…make it during Week # 3 of the pre-season, you do not make it on Monday night football game.
So the irony here is that a very atrocious call will actually end up getting us a lot more good calls and the real refs will come back. This is how North American negotiations work where corporations have leverage 99.5% of the time- Monday night however, the .5% won. Now there is not much confusion, I’m sure most of you have already seen by now the replay. It was like a perfect storm of incompetency where Seattle could’ve really been penalized for several different things. First of all, you can’t overturn possession with a replay – so whatever is called on the field is the call, when it comes to possession. So first of all #14 for Seattle (Charlie Martin) was using his arms to clear out Packers. They are never going to call that but that could be a penalty. Secondly, Tate pushed the player covering him and then thirdly, Tate didn’t have simultaneous possession of that ball at any point – it wasn’t close! But once the refs called the touchdown, you can’t overturn possession with a replay.
Jerry Markbeit, long time official but now retired, was on the Mike & Mike Show on ESPN radio Tuesday morning and basically said what he would’ve done in this mess “what I would’ve done is go to the other official – the back judge, and ask him “ why were you killing the clock and about to give a touchback signal – tell me what you saw” and when he would’ve told me that Tate had one arm on the ball, I would’ve then looked back on the touchdown and said “if the interceptor had both hands on the ball and if there was not simultaneous catch in the air, we’re going to go with the touchback” and I would’ve exerted my expertise – as with the other professional referee’s to get this call correct”
Yeah, I mean once the ref put his hands in the air and signaled a touchdown on what was clearly not simultaneous possession, it’s not that hard of a call. Like once he puts his hands in the air to rule it a touchdown –if you’re Green Bay, you are hosed at that moment because you can’t overturn possession on that kind of play with replay, your done! So what you would’ve seen with veteran refs – and they would’ve gotten it right had they been there, is them getting into a huddle and saying to one another “no no no, no simultaneous possession”