Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The NFL officiating clusterfuck and the homer hypocrisy of Paul Ryan and Scott Walker

By Michael J.W. Stickings 

Yeah, I watched the Packers-Seahawks game Monday. Yeah, it was appalling. That call at the end -- the "Touception" -- was the worst game-deciding call, and maybe the worst major call generally, I've ever seen.

But isn't it hilarious how Republicans Paul Ryan and Scott Walker, both Wisconsinite Packers fans, are calling on the NFL to "get the real refs" back (in Ryan's words)? (Presumably Ryan meant all officials, not just the referees, but maybe he really doesn't know any better and is something of a faux fan.)

Because, you know, those "real refs" are unionized and both Ryan and Walker are viciously anti-union. I guess things are different when your team gets screwed.


As for the issue itself, look, the officiating has been pretty awful. The Monday night game was terrible, but so was the Sunday nighter between the Patriots and Ravens. I watch parts of every game, because I have that NFL package, and every game has had its share of bad calls.

For example, while I hesitate to make excuses for my Steelers after their embarrassing 34-31 loss to the Raiders on Sunday, I would like to note that there was illegal motion on a key play near the end of the second quarter that gave the Raiders a first down deep in Steelers territory. It went uncalled and, with a new set of downs, the Raiders ended up scoring.

But I do think the officials should be given the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they're doing their best, or maybe not, but basically they're just not up to the very difficult job of officiating NFL games. (Most of us aren't. Not even close.) They're in way over their heads, and, to make matters worse, they're being bullied by players and coaches alike. Is it really all that surprising that they're making mistakes?

But it's not their fault they're in this position. I suppose they could have turned down the offer to act as replacements, but that's hardly realistic. If you're a football referee or other official and the NFL comes to you with an offer like that, you don't turn them down.

No, the fault lies with Commissioner Goodell and the disgustingly rich (and disgustingly cheap) owners who are playing hardball with the union.

It's time to end the madness. It's time to pay the officials, the real officials, what they want. Because without them it's all just a massive joke, with the players facing even greater risks on the field and the very integrity of the game, not just the league, coming undone at the seams.

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