NFL, refs compromise after debacle in Seattle
The NFL can insist all it wants that the national outrage over the performance of replacement officials had nothing to do with ending its lockout of referees. Hogwash. It had everything to do with the agreement reached Wednesday night, which ended the lockout and calmed the criticism that reached a crescendo after Monday night’s bizarre ending in Seattle.
The media – the national news media, not just the sports folks – have complained. Coaches and players have complained. Fans started petitions and complained. The president of the United States complained. The replacements were clearly out of their depth, and as I wrote a week ago, the integrity of the league was at stake.
When the results of your games are called into question by officiating mistakes, you will lose credibility, and for good reason.
The NFL has a gigantic TV contract, its already enviable ratings are increasing, and it owns the American viewing audience in a way no other sport does. The NFL knew that no matter how angry everyone was, come Sunday, we were all going to turn on the TV and watch the product it provided. For many, football is ingrained in the psyche. We are unable or unwilling to turn it off to make a point.
But that doesn’t mean the public was powerless. Tuesday’s bargaining session was scheduled before Monday night’s debacle, but if you believe that the national outcry wasn’t on everyone’s minds as they gathered to negotiate, think again.
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