By Jeremy Meyer
Like many college students, I like getting packages from home. A few days ago, I was sent a package from my house in a small town north of Boston, Massachusetts.
When I opened the box, I found an assortment of forgotten clothes that I had asked for, along with surprise cookies and small gifts. Among the loot was a package of dark, blue New England Patriots coasters, representing my favorite pro football team.
If you’ve ever received NFL merchandise before, you can easily depict the recognizable NFL shield on the packaging. Before I opened my coasters, I noticed the iconic logo and paused.
What is the meaning behind the shield now? What does it reflect?
Questions of integrity for America’s favorite game have never been louder.
The National Football League locked out its referees last June, becoming a much bigger issue than it was originally publicized in the beginning month of the summer. The league has replaced its regulars with replacements, people dubbed as “scab refs” on various message boards and social networking sites.
Not only are these new zebras not inclined to officiate grown men playing football, they lack the foundation of knowledge of critical rules that they have botched, butchered and messed up during significant junctures in games for the past three weeks.
As Sports Illustrated’s Peter King reported at halftime of Sunday Night’s contest between the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens, the league and its true officials stand very far apart. King tweeted his report, saying “Still at least two major issues with a wide gulf. Likely one is still pension, with $3m per year separating the 2 sides.”
In an industry that brings in approximately $9.5 billion every year, the league is steadfast on saving a few million dollars while watching its product turn to chaos?
King’s report means mainly one thing: we better get used to what we are seeing. We better get used to referees who mark off 27 yards for a 15-yard personal foul. We better get used to officials who grant a coach two challenges when his team is without a timeout. We better get used to conflicting rulings on the field that decide an outcome of a game.
These officials lack both the ability and the experience to control the events that unfold in front of them. These replacements consist of crews from small college football. The line judge that Bill Belichick grabbed following the Patriots 31-30 defeat Sunday Night? According to the Associated Press, he had one season of refereeing experience of Division III football before being dubbed a “replacement”.
With all due respect to teams like the Carthage Red Men and the Mount Ida Mustangs, they don’t display NFL talent on their gridirons on any given Saturday.
Another glaring impact is the lack of respect teams, coaches and the public have for the new zebras. The number of skirmishes that take place after every single play could not demonstrate this better.
Football consists of constant emotion from all angles, and feelings that are constantly boiling over. Coaches are being fined left and right for being demonstrative, in an attempt to comprehend the absurdity that takes place in front of them. For a crew to be unable to step in and restore order leaves games to nothing but chaos, which increases the possibility of injury tenfold.
The NFL is already battling numerous lawsuits from former players who claim the league knew of the dangers of concussions and simply kept quiet. Paying referees who can’t control the actions on the field will do nothing but increase vicious hits that will hurt more players and aid the arguments of the league’s fervent opponents.
Following the debacle that was Week 3 in the National Football League, Roger Goodell and company have no choice but to get a deal done. These officials are not only ruining the product on the field, but they are altering delicate outcomes that will be the difference between a possible championship and not making the playoffs at all.
Organizations work too hard to have their outcomes determined by inexperienced, uneducated officials in every single game. If the league maintains an indifference towards standings and history being at stake, they must focus on the increased possibility of injury happening on these crew’s watches.
Simply put, the NFL has turned into a chaotic mess.