FORT WAYNE – So heres what we do now: Call in the replacement commissioner.
Roger Goodell, youre officially locked out. Someone else will take your place, in hopes that (unlike you, Rog) hell see the wisdom of not turning a multibillion dollar entertainment empire into the football equivalent of Honey Boo-Boo.
Emphasis on boo-boo.
Did you see that mess out in Seattle, Rog?
Seriously, it cant get more clowns-on-unicycles than this. Seattle receiver Golden Tate never had the football. Green Bay defensive back M.D. Jennings did, eventually. Somehow the officials ruled a Tate catch, a Seattle touchdown and a Seattle victory on the last play of the game.
Not Hail Mary, certainly. More like Hail to the Cheap.
That would be you, Roger Goodell, and no wriggling off the hook this time. You and the owners you represent locked out the real refs, brought in Howdy and Doody, and turned the Shield into Tupperware. And all so the NFL, which was generating $9 billion a year the last I looked, could save what amounts to the spare change on your dresser.
Look. No ones saying the real refs arent being pigheaded about this, too. The league, actually, is putting a chunky offer on the table for what amounts to part-time work. So Real Ref needs to get over himself, too.
But Real Ref didnt walk out on you, Rog. You put him on the street. And then you brought in scabs who, for all their earnest efforts, simply are not up to the job.
That crew who blew up Monday Night Football this week?
Two of them are former Pac-12 officials who were let go because they werent considered good enough for the Pac-12. Now theyre calling NFL games?
Little wonder theyre doing the Banana Peel Shuffle out there, and even less wonder that the coaches and players are dissing them.
Oh, sure, you can fine em for that from now till doomsday, but it wont make a whit of difference. You cant legislate respect, for one thing. For another, this is the NFL, where the most ingrained instinct of them all is sniffing out weakness and exploiting it. And the scab refs, last seen doing NAIA games and the like, are the weakness.
Its not their fault, really. One weekend youre dealing with the coach of Whatsamatta U.; the next, Bill Belichicks grabbing your arm and yammering in your ear. Or Mike Shanahan and not one but two of his assistants are hollering at you over a call.
Scab Ref could put an end to that simply by looking at Shanahan and saying, Mike, get these two clowns out of my face or two things are going to happen. Theyre going to be out of the game, and this conversation will be over.
Scab Ref, however, isnt going to do that. And its unfair to expect him to.
So, heres the deal, Rog: You sit down with the real refs, and you get down to cases. Enough dawdling. Enough playing chicken with your product. Enough putting the players well-being at risk, because we all know how much you like to prattle on about the players well-being.
All of thats a crock, if you persist in this. And if you do, its time to lock you out, Rog, and bring in someone with credentials comparable to those of your scab officials.
Larry, Curly or Moe. Your pick.