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Sunday, 23 September 2012


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Maybe it's a pre-election thing. They're trying out the football version of "smaller government", just to see what happens... ;-)

The regular refs have been locked out by the owners over a contract dispute. The refs want to continue to receive pensions; the owners want to save that money.

When will they be back? Don't hold your breath. The NFL owners apparently believe that officials are at best incidental to the game.

The league, at the behest of the owners, wants to change their work rules, impose a pay cut, and turn their pension into a 401k. Needless to say, the refs weren't interested.

As a consequence, seeking to show the world who's boss, the owners imposed a lockout. They've scraped up replacement refs from retirees, the "Lingerie Football League" (I am NOT making this up!), etc., thinking that the fans won't care or will confuse a lockout with a strike.

Let's be clear: the owners started this, and the motivation is greed. The victims are the players and the fans.

The only thing that might change matters is if the ratings start to droop. If that happens, the TV networks will show the NFL who's really the boss.

That is one job I would absolutely not want. There's just too much pressure and opportunity for mistakes, only to be lambasted by fans of the losing team. I think I'd rather have my nose hair pulled out one-by-one than be a ref. I'd even trade in my trusty Canons for Nikons before taking on that job. ;-)

I'm from the UK so I don't understand the question, but I read this which may make sense to you. http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2012/09/atrocious

and this http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2012/09/scabtackular.

Is that an answer?

NFL locked out the refs in June.

A summary of the issues here:


In August, Jeff MacGregor chastised fans for not caring:


And just this week, the players union officially went on the record, highlighting safety:


The NFL decided to lock out the refs over what seems like a pittance in salary. It looks very much as if their real goal is to break the union, and the salary amount is just an excuse. IIRC, they've also needed to dredge pretty deep to find the replacements, because they can't get the refs from the highest levels of college football. I don't remember the exact details of why, but you're basically looking at bottom tier college and some high school refs. Is it any wonder they're in over their heads?

Its a 1% on the job training program.

Here's a New York Times story on the topic: In NFL, the Show Goes On and On:

Television is the linchpin in the NFL’s enormous popularity. Football is seemingly made for TV and, as one network executive joked, when was the last time someone complained about a football game lasting too long? It never comes up.

Until now. As the NFL continues to use replacement officials during its labor dispute with the regular ones, concerns about the effect of the fill-ins are spreading beyond botched calls. With two weeks of sluggish, stunted and stilted games played, a question that strikes at the core of the league’s appeal is being raised: Are the replacement officials diminishing the entertainment value of the games?

Is that the one with the round ball, or the one with the pointy ends?

'C'mon, now, Bill, I actually specified it in the post..."American football." That's the one with the pointy ends. You should know that.


"Football is seemingly made for TV and, as one network executive joked, when was the last time someone complained about a football game lasting too long? It never comes up."

Here's what I noticed watching today's games:
1. The refs were not only allowing players to vulch over their shoulders during confabs, but one ref, when he turned to player who was jawing away, instead of shooing him off like I expected, actually appeared to be answering him.
2. I saw SEVERAL hits that looked like football from, say, 30 years ago. There was one vicious "cut block" style tackle that I'm pretty sure must be illegal in the NFL, because I haven't seen one like it for years. Switching back and forth between Bears-Rams and Redskins-Bengals, it seemed like I saw about seven or eight really vicious hits that looked like the "old" NFL from way back. I haven't winced so much watching football for a long time.
3. Maybe I don't care if the games are longer, but there were TWO occasions today when I actually said out loud (okay, I talk to myself occasionally during games), "What am I sitting here for?" I was just sitting in front of dead air, minute after minute, while somebody was reviewing something somewhere. It made me feel like I should wander over to the computer and start playing "Chicken Invaders" or something.
4. There were obvious blown calls. Obvious, because they got overturned. In several cases it seemed like there was no call at all.
5. The cornerbacks are allowed to bump receivers for five yards off the line of scrimmage, correct? At one point it just struck me that they seemed to be doing it for too long, and then I started watching for it. Sometimes the camera zoomed in too close for me to see, but it didn't take too long before it became obvious that the DBs are pushing the limits...in one case I saw a cornerback making physical contact for TEN yards off the line of scrimmage.

In general it seems to me like the players are starting to realize they can get away with stuff they usually can't get away with. Seems to me they'll keep testing the limits until they find 'em.

Finally, there's the fairness issue. One reason I watch sports is because everybody gets held to the same rules...unlike in life, where unfairness abounds and people get away with all kinds of nastiness and skullduggery. If I start feeling like the outcomes of football games have to take into account all sorts of blown calls and blatant cheating, I'm just not sure how I'm going to feel about that.


"when was the last time someone complained about a football game lasting too long?"

Somebody is spending too much time listening to his own propaganda. People may not complain about the absolute length of games, but they certainly complain about the pace. We watch games to see the players play, not to watch the officials officiate. When the games get 10 or 15 minutes longer because the refs are bad, take too long to make decisions, and have to wait a lot while the replay official double-checks their work, people complain.

There's also the stuff you don't see in the game. This from the player union's letter:

"The headlines are embarrassing: A scab working a game despite having been on the payroll of one of the teams, another who was assigned to referee a team he publicly supported on Facebook, and one who is a professional poker player when you propose even more stringent player rules on gambling.''

According to the letter, what the two sides disagree on add up to about $60,000 per team, i.e. pocket change.

Football is like the free market. It wants to be, uh, free. You don't want rule makers and regulators telling players what to do, that'll ruin the game. It's creative destruction, the market will sort it all out.

This is not about a "game!"
This is about money and the haves and have nots.
The National Hickey League has a similar problem.

And I thought the Hatfields and McCoys were dead.





The Sunday night game tonight featured the loudest "manure chant" ever experienced by Al Michaels.

In other news, the Pats lost another close one in sloppy fashion. Could it be that Bill B. has lost his touch?

And somebody's gonna get hurt bad. When that happens, and the league gets sued for $100 million because a running back or wide receiver is turned into a quadriplegic, maybe they'll reconsider about the pensions...

Mike, you obviously missed the Vikings - 49ers game. The quality of the referees is, to be blunt, horrible ... and has been an issue on every game I've watched (and in spite of being Canadian, the NFL is my favourite sport, so I've watched a bunch!)

As with "Fußball", the Olympics or the TdF, it doesnt help to watch and complain. Stop watching, this means less money for everyone and only then something changes. Because its only about the money, no matter how dedicated a fan is.

Just finished watching the Pats - Ravens game. I'm just about ready to pay for the refs' demands out of pocket; it was appalling watching the crap calls, no calls and general disorganization on the field.

You know it's getting bad when the TV commentators are openly saying how bad the officiating is and keeping count of the bad calls.

At least they got the pass interference call near the end of the game right. [g]


Talk about a LONG game. The Raiders/Steelers game which started about the same time as other late games(4:30 est) started it's 4th quarter, when all the other games had already ended!

What I want to know is why is the players union crossing the picket lines. And why are any of the fans who belong to unions crossing. If unions in the auto workers or long shore mans unions were locked out and scabs were used there then there would be he'll to pay. And while we're talking, I'm pretty sure all the people broadcasting the games for the tv networks are unionized. Why are they crossing. It's just those pesky officials. Right. Not real workers here at all. Shame on all of you.

Since I've moved to New Zealand and learned what rugby is all about, I don't miss football AT ALL! the game flow like soccer, the action is fierce, and the players are good sports. Greatest team contact sport ever.

"Maybe it's a pre-election thing. They're trying out the football version of "smaller government", just to see what happens... ;-)"

Hey Ernie, surely it's more like "hope and change".

What's the yellow thing he's got?

Utterly disinterested Brit here. Surely the extra delays are the perfect opportunity for increased advertising? Now if the advertisers complain I can see the TV networks applying some muscle so surely the best thing to do is switch off, sounds like the 'games' aren't worth watching live anyway.

Mike said

"Finally, there's the fairness issue. One reason I watch sports is because everybody gets held to the same rules...unlike in life, where unfairness abounds and people get away with all kinds of nastiness and skullduggery."

You ought to watch UK football - the only sport where you can cheat in full view of everyone, get away with it, and raise your transfer fee expectations on the basis of those skills

Who cares? I don't watch sports on tv. Especially football. Of course I don't watch much tv at all, but that's another discussion.

This year the NFL, next year [or soon enough] the whole of America . . . ?

Very similar no call in the Texans-Broncos game too. The DB clearly held up the WR 15 or so yards down field stopping a TD pass, but no call.

The Referees who say "Nee"

Paying attention? I bet you are now. Let's see what happens tonight.

It's a story that casts light on much more than football. I saw an NFL (management) representative on a sports business TV show explaining their position. They aren't claiming that they can't afford what the refs want, but that it's a trend in America to do away with defined benefit pension systems. "Other companies are doing it, so we want to do it, too."

I heard someone say today that the replacement refs may make the games more compelling. As in "let's watch to see what they do next." Like watching the Kardashians.

Lazy Aussie,

It's a live canary. They throw it at the quarterback's head if they feel he or she is playing too well.

If they're still playing too well they throw their hats under the feet of the receivers.

re: not ready for prime time refs
Heard during pregame show: "No need to fix anything. The demand is inelastic. Fans will watch, no matter what."

Happily I am neither a US-ian or a television owner, but doesn't all the money in TV come from advertisers?

Hence, I suggest all the cheesed-off viewers should make a note of every advert shown during the games and write to the Chairman, and also head of Marketing, of the relevant manufacturers saying that your opinion of their product has gone down through association with a reduced quality television-product. Follow the money, or whatever that stupid phrase was.

Apparently the price of gold went up 10x. Monday night's officiating was atrocious.

Sorry Mike ;-(
That was not right. Can NFL reverse the call and give the game to Green Bay?

You have an opinion on the Refs now?

I imagine you are even more PO'd after MNF. As a Seattle-ite I guess all that I can say is "It's an ugly W...but it's a W."

It's all about cutting costs to improve the bottom line.

There is nothing like a little union busting to lower the quality of the work force.

Too bad their isn't instant replay for the state and municipal workers in Wisconsin.

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