NFL treats officials as disposable

August 14, 2012, 2:53 am
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Finally, a rooting interest for the upcoming NFL season has revealed itself.

In the first two weeks, each team loses one game directly because a replacement officiating crew makes a obviously hideous call. That is to say, nobody is happy as quickly as possible.

According to reports, the NFL and its officials are so far apart on a new deal that no settlement seems likely until the season begins. And given what we know about the new emboldened owners, theyll happily sacrifice the games for a principle.

In this case, less security and money for the officials.

Oh, the argument is about other things as well the league wants to add three extra crews, and one full-time crew, presumably for leverage, especially against its older whistles but mostly its about money. And their philosophy about money.

And to save that money, the owners are willing to put a dent in a new season one more tribute to their actual respect for the product. In short, they know youll watch anyway, and they already have most of the TV and ticket money, so theyre basically dismissing the sport to fuel their need to remind the labor force just how replaceable it is.

And thats the philosophy behind the money.

There were no egregiously bad calls in Mondays Dallas-Oakland game, largely because there werent any deeds in Mondays Dallas-Oakland game. But August football isnt the important product. August football is for people who admit they have a problem and decide they dont care. September is when it matters, and when leaks are allowed to make sure the word gets out that the two sides are far apart, that word is to remind everyone how little the officials truly matter in the eyes of the owners.

So a gentle reminder of the difference between NFL quality and non-NFL quality needs to be delivered. Hence, the distribution of officiating mistakes that outrage everyone.

If everyone gets hosed once, theyll know that a game has been taken that cant be retrieved. If everyone gets hosed once, theyll be able to speak up and remind the people that provide the games that there actually is a minimum entertainment standard the league must meet.

If everyone gets hosed once, theyll know that professionals arent as disposable as theyd like them to be.

Will, they learn this? Probably not. The modern sports owner has largely concluded that the games are really first and foremost about them and their needs. It is why the NBA gave up two months of last season, and why the NHL is likely to do the same, and why the NFL played the brinkmanship game with the players union so well that the union is now suing to try and attack parts of the deal they themselves signed.

This is the moment where they send a message to the officials that they are lucky to have jobs, and that they will be treated not as professionals but as freelancers, no more a part of the game than a hammer is to a house. So the NFL should get what it's willing to pay for games that end in chaos, players, coaches and fans enraged at what has happened to the sport.

Or they can go out and bring family and friends and do it themselves. Apparently they can use the extra money a game check will provide.
Ray Ratto is a columnist for