If you were building a bridge, would you hire a work crew with a few hours of metal shop on their résumés, or trained and certified Ironworkers? Would you go into surgery with someone who only has a CPR certificate, or a real doctor with a medical degree?
If you’re NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, or one of the 32 NFL team owners, you'd go with the newbie—at least it seems that way, given their decision to lock out professional NFL officials and instead use untrained, unprepared and in-over-their-heads replacement referees.
Just look at last night’s disaster in Seattle where, according to 99.9 percent of the football world and the videotape, the refs absolutely blew a last-second call that cost the Green Bay Packers a win over the Seahawks. The replacement refs threw 24 flags—some for nonexistent penalties—while missing obvious calls in a game they had no control over.
Ironically, the actions of the “Clueless in Seattle” replacement refs—most of their experience has been in small college, minor league or high school football—have spurred even notorious Wisconsin anti-union Gov. Scott Walker (R) and Republican vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to call for the end to the lockout.
Of course, we all know that's all about their love for the Packers rather than any respect for the workers or opposition to the NFL’s greedy attempt to eliminate the referees’ pensions by a league that makes $3 billion a year in television rights. AFT President Randi Weingarten tweets:
Glad the ref lockout showed @govwalker the importance of unions. Too bad teachers, nurses and public workers aren't as important to him— Randi Weingarten (@rweingarten) September 25, 2012
The NFL Players Association (NFLPA) has called for an end to the lockout because it “continues to jeopardize player health and safety and the integrity of the game that has taken decades to build.”
Grantland’s Bill Barnwell writes that last night’s debacle is “only the second-worst thing that could happen under the replacement refs, though we're seemingly on our way to the first.”
As bad as a would-be win becoming a loss is, the worst thing would be if a…player suffered a serious injury by virtue of referee incompetence. That's already been broached a few times this year.
I love this league and love the game of football, but tonight’s debacle hurts me greatly. This is NOT the league we’re supposed to represent— Drew Brees (@drewbrees) September 25, 2012
Sports Illustrated senior football writer Peter King retweeted this after the game.
RT @satanslollipop: After last night, only argument real refs need to make to Goodell is, "Do you want the Super Bowl to look like this?"— Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) September 25, 2012