To NFL brass fans are simply wallets with feet

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To NFL brass fans are simply wallets with feet

The low-hanging fruit that is the NFL replacement official class is now its own meme, and as is usually the case, it obscures the actual story.

With each new failure, each new bungle, each new overturned, underturned or just plain missed call, they have become greater and greater figures of national fun.

Face it. At this, they stink.

But they should stink. Let me say that again. THEY. SHOULD. STINK. They have undergone minimal training for a skill that takes years to master, and even the best have a noticeable failure rate, because the game is too fast and the players too big and skilled in the arts of rule-bending.

It is plainly unreasonable to expect the replacements not to stink, which is why the argument needs to be turned on its head, namely so:

If the NFL and its 32 owners, including Jed York and Mark Davis, want to brag ceaselessly about having the best of everything for your ridiculously overpriced entertainment dollar, why are they so willing to replace the best of the best, players and officials alike, at the drop of a dollar bill? If its so hard to reach the NFL why is it so easy to be exchanged for day-workers, fan boys, railyard hobos and accordionists?

Why do the owners, including Jed York and Mark Davis, insist on replacing the irreplaceable and calling the new ones just as good?

Because they essentially hold you in contempt. To them, you are a wallet with feet, and nothing more.

They take your money, they give you garbage when they need to and try to pass it off as quality, and they get annoyed when you question their motives or training skills.

Any why are we going to keep mentioning Jed York and Mark Davis? Because they signed off on this, too. Roger Goodell can huff and puff all he likes that is, after all, the real reason he gets paid but 32 men gathered to use this strategy, defend it as business, and let the one thing they sell deteriorate.

While, of course, watching the ratings hold steady, or in some cases rise.

In which case, maybe theyre on to something. Maybe you ARE just wallets with feet sheepskin wallets, to match the level of slack-jawed tolerance it takes to accept such substandard work from the organization that claims it brings the best in entertainment each and every week.

And maybe all you really want here is a reason to bitch about something else in your week, and bitching about replacement officials doesnt get you called into HR for one of their little talks.

If that is so, and the ratings and turnstiles continue to bear this out, then maybe the NFL should be replacing the replacements with people who are even worse than the ones already employed. Maybe they should do what they did with the line judge from the Saints game give a fan a spot in every crew. Maybe use B-list celebrities like the ones the networks pass off as real stars . . . And now lets wait for the call from referee Kat Dennings, appearing this week on Broadway in a one-woman adaptation of Twelve Angry Men.

Maybe a classy slogan with ads plastered throughout the broadcast day on the NFL Network: Hey, You Dont Care, So Why Should We? Or, We Put As Much Time And Interest Into Our Product As You Want Us To, So Screw It. Go Buy A Car. Or, to dovetail into their youth program, Stink 60.

And maybe let the coaches and players and broadcasters let fly with all the criticisms they want, only couched as admiration: That was the single worst call I have ever seen on any playing field ever, and for having no clue at all about even the most rudimentary rules of the game, well done to you Milt DeVries, unemployed dock worker from Dundalk, Maryland, and todays umpire.

As for the men thrown into the cauldron for now, they are doing the best they can, which is awful. But it is not unlike taking a carpenter and asking him to figure out M-theory. With the right amount of non-training, he can fail just as monumentally.

And thank you for this, Jed and Mark, and your 30 playmates. You have shown us the darkness and called it light. You voted for this. You own it. And remember the old car slogan, Quality Is Job Six, Because Our Customers Deserve Only The Worst.

Lott-led group still working to keep Raiders in Oakland, 'playing to win'

Lott-led group still working to keep Raiders in Oakland, 'playing to win'

SAN FRANCISCO -- Oakland civic leaders and deep-pocketed investors fighting to keep the Raiders from moving insist they are still in the game despite team owner Mark Davis formally applying to the NFL to relocate to Las Vegas.

A local investment group that includes Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott said Thursday they continue to negotiate with government officials, the team and the NFL to build a $1.25 billion, 55,000-seat stadium in Oakland.

"We are in this game and we are playing to win," Lott's group said in a statement. The statement said the Raiders' filing Thursday was expected and done to "keep its options open in Las Vegas."

The Raiders have been seeking to replace their dilapidated home for years. The Coliseum has suffered from sewage backups and other infrastructure problems. It's also the only remaining NFL stadium to also be home to a baseball team - the Athletics - and lacks many of the modern, money-making features of new stadiums.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf has been negotiating with Davis and investors to find a new home for the team in the city but has said public financing is not an option. She and other local boosters support the bid by Lott's group to keep the team on Oakland.

"Only Oakland brings the Raiders and the NFL a competitive stadium proposal, along with legacy and loyalty," Schaaf said in a prepared statement.

The city and Alameda County still owe a combined $100 million for upgrades made to the stadium in 1995 to lure the Raiders back to Oakland after the team spent the 14 previous years playing in Los Angeles. The city and county were left holding the bag after personal seat licenses failed to cover the cost of the $220 million renovation that added more than 10,000 seats and luxury boxes.

The city is willing to give the team 60 acres of land on the Coliseum site to build a new stadium.

The local investors are competing with a Las Vegas plan that calls for $750 million in hotel room tax revenue, $650 million from billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson's company and $500 million from the Raiders and the NFL.

League owners are expected to vote on the proposed move in March.

Local boosters argue that Oakland offers a better football venue than Las Vegas, a transient tourist town with no professional football history. They say the San Francisco Bay Area's television market dwarves the Las Vegas region's and that it will cost the team $500 million to relocate.

"I think we continue to offer a far superior deal," said Scott Haggerty, president of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors. Haggerty is also on the board that manages the Coliseum.

"I think that Mark Davis has been very patient in trying to come up with a stadium plan and I don't blame him for keeping his options open," Haggerty said. "But the Raiders belong in Oakland."

Haggerty and others also say that a Raiders move out of the region threatens to alienate fans who re-embraced the team after it left Oakland after the 1981 season and played for 14 years in Los Angeles only to move back to the Bay Area.

Davis has said the team will continue to play in Oakland until the Las Vegas stadium is finished, likely by the 2020 season. The Raiders have two one-year options to play at the Oakland Coliseum in 2017 and 2018 and are already taking season ticket renewals for next season.

"I'm incredulous this could happen again," said 57-year-old Jim Zelinski, a lifelong Oakland resident and Raiders fan. "I'm disgusted, to be quite frank."

Nonetheless, Zelinski has co-founded a fan organization that is lobbying the Raiders and the NFL to keep the team in Oakland.

"We want to combat the narrative that most Raider fans are neutral and don't care if the team moves to Las Vegas," said Zelinski, who must decide by next month if he wants to renew his season tickets. "The Raiders need to do the right thing."

Mayor Schaaf: 'Oakland has something no other city ever will'

Mayor Schaaf: 'Oakland has something no other city ever will'

The Oakland Raiders have officially filed for relocation to Las Vegas. And Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf has responded. 

“It’s no surprise that the Raiders have filed for relocation," Schaaf said in a statement. "Oakland welcomes the chance to show them and the NFL’s other owners why Oakland is the only home for the Raiders and always will be.

“Our winning team of the Lott Group, the County and my colleagues on the Oakland City Council has accomplished so much in the last few months. We’ve identified the mechanisms to responsibly finance public infrastructure improvements, we have in the Lott Group a private partner prepared to finance stadium construction, and we have an entitled site for a world-class NFL stadium and new development that enhances fan experience while invigorating East Oakland's economy. 

“But this isn’t all Oakland has to offer. Oakland’s Raiders stadium will be on the most transit-accessible site in the nation, in the sixth largest television market, and in one of the wealthiest and most innovative regions in the world. But above all else, Oakland has something no other city ever will -- a die-hard fan base that is loyal and true to the Raiders and wants to see them stay here in Oakland where they were founded. Only Oakland brings the Raiders and the NFL a competitive stadium proposal, along with legacy and loyalty.

“I look forward to the League giving our team a chance to compete.”

Now that the fate of the Raiders' relocation is in the hands of the NFL owners, a vote could come at the NFL owners meetings in late March. It’s uncertain whether Davis has the votes needed to relocate, but there has been momentum building for such a move over the past several months.

Davis has said that, even if the Raiders are approved for relocation, he plans on playing in Oakland the next few years while a Las Vegas stadium is built. The team has already sent out season ticket pricing to fans for the 2017 season. The Raiders have one-year team options to play Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

The Las Vegas stadium isn’t expected to be ready until the 2020 season.

The Office of the Mayor Libby Schaaf and Scott Bair contributed to this report.