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Are you ready for some football? 'Cause the refs aren't.
September 20, 2012 9:13 AM   Subscribe

Since June, the NFL has locked out its referees as their union and league management have failed to come to an agreement over a range of issues, most notably the future of the referees' pensions. In their absence, the league has resorted to using replacement refs to officiate games. The results have not been pretty.

Both players and fans have accused the replacement refs of making egregious errors, failing to manage the flow of the game, being in the tank for one team or another, and even endangering players' safety. Bookies in Vegas are considering factoring in the influence of replacement refs on the games by giving home teams an extra half-point on the spread. As it turns out, becoming a referee in the NFL requires a great deal more training and experience than what the replacements have gotten. That said, the replacement refs seem to have kept pace with their union counterparts on common penalties such as illegal blocking and roughing the passer, even as they ignore procedural penalties and drag out game times with discussion on how to rule on a given flag on the play.

Criticism of the league from players and elsewhere has been mounting; however, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has held firm, and he may have good reason to: As ESPN's Steve Young has observed, Everything about the NFL now is inelastic for demand. There's nothing they can do to hurt the demand for the game. So the bottom line is they don't care.
posted by Cash4Lead (196 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Any chance the replacement refs have been purposely under-performing in order to pressure the NFL to deal? A show of solidarity?
posted by Thorzdad at 9:23 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Everything about the NFL now is inelastic for demand. There's nothing they can do to hurt the demand for the game.

Yes, totally inelastic. Nothing could possibly ever compete, its not like there are any other sports that the rest of the world loves just waiting for us to pay atention and dominate in TRUE AMERICANTM style.
posted by Blasdelb at 9:23 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


In the Ravens/Eagles game this week, the officials called a two-minute warning at 2:04 to play, and again at 1:56. After the second two-minute warning, they declared it to be fourth down, and then conferenced and revised that to second down. The marker on the sidelines continued to read third down.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:26 AM on September 20, 2012 [14 favorites]


You mean the NFL is too big to fail? ... ([O_o)

Why isn't there a dramatic gopher Unicode glyph?
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:26 AM on September 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


The difference is something like $3 million a year, which would be ashtray money for any one individual team, but spread over the whole league? I have a hard time imagining that the NFL hasn't already lost more money than that thanks to the replacement crews.
posted by Copronymus at 9:30 AM on September 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


This past weekend I put on an NFL game which is something I almost never do. I wasn't aware of the lockout and was totally astounded and the number of bad calls - I think they must have averaged around one per play.

The announcers pointed out the bad calls but didn't mention that the league was using scab refs - I wonder if they assumed all the viewers were aware of this already or didn't want to get into anything political.
posted by exogenous at 9:31 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wyrd is the NFLPA won't let them bust the union wholesale, and will respect the picket line if it comes down to it.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:33 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


They're pretty awful. I've been watching the games and it's really made me appreciate how hard it must be to actually do the job.
posted by Carillon at 9:33 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh good. Insane NFL organization greed.
posted by uraniumwilly at 9:34 AM on September 20, 2012


I wonder if they assumed all the viewers were aware of this already or didn't want to get into anything political.

The former. There's been no lack of commentary from the game callers.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:34 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ugh, it's been terrible. In the Arizona/New England game, the refs didn't reset the play clock after Arizona's timeout. So Arizona had to burn another timeout just to get in position without being penalized. That kind of defeats the purpose of the timeout if you have 5 seconds afterwards to get on the field and start the play.
posted by TungstenChef at 9:36 AM on September 20, 2012


I have a hard time imagining that the NFL hasn't already lost more money than that thanks to the replacement crews.

Well to me it's meant more news coverage of the NFL than I'd normally consume. There's no such thing as bad publicity.
posted by Jahaza at 9:39 AM on September 20, 2012


Anything you hear about a commitment to player safety from NFL owners is 100% pure BS. They are sacrificing the health of their players for a fraction of a percent of league revenue.

Sports team owners are a pretty disgusting breed, but NFL owners still manage to be the worst of the bunch.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 9:39 AM on September 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


"From the owners' standpoint, right now they're funding a pension program that is a defined benefit program," said Goodell, who was in Washington on Wednesday attending a luncheon hosted by Politico's Playbook. "About ten percent of the country has that. Yours truly doesn't have that. It's something that doesn’t really exist anymore and that I think is going away steadily."

Of course you don't have that, you fuck. If you already have the money you don't need a pension. And pensions aren't disappearing because they can't survive in the big, mean world - they are disappearing because people like you refuse to acknowledge that anyone else is responsible for your success.

But, you're right. Fuck the seasoned refs. I mean, it's not like they do anything important or have anything invested in this.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 9:39 AM on September 20, 2012 [32 favorites]


My favorite part of last Sunday was when John Fox was screaming uncontrollably at the refs for calling too many men on the field, and initially the announcers supported him. And then they actually looked, and oh yeah, 12 men on the field. Ha ha John Fox.
posted by inigo2 at 9:40 AM on September 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


"From the owners' standpoint, right now they're funding a pension program that is a defined benefit program," said Goodell, who was in Washington on Wednesday attending a luncheon hosted by Politico's Playbook. "About ten percent of the country has that. Yours truly doesn't have that. It's something that doesn’t really exist anymore and that I think is going away steadily."

The fact that the rest of the country is losing or has lost defined benefit pensions is a damn shame, but is no reason for NFL refs to lose theirs as well, you turd.
posted by kenko at 9:41 AM on September 20, 2012 [12 favorites]


The announcers pointed out the bad calls but didn't mention that the league was using scab refs - I wonder if they assumed all the viewers were aware of this already or didn't want to get into anything political.

FWIW, every game I've watched has had the announcers commenting on it, so I think it must be the former.
posted by inigo2 at 9:41 AM on September 20, 2012


Also, there are what, 100 of them? Less? You could let them split the Hope Diamond every year and not cut very far into the league's walking-around money.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:42 AM on September 20, 2012


I have a hard time imagining that the NFL hasn't already lost more money than that thanks to the replacement crews.

Where would they have lost money? People are still going to games, people are still watching on TV.
posted by inigo2 at 9:42 AM on September 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Most of these "bad calls" or "non calls" made by the replacement referees are noticed because more people are actively on the lookout for them. Statistically, it's been found that the same number of such calls have been made by the regular referees in the past.

However, the more-egregious part of this whole affair is how the replacement refs are managing the game and endangering player safety. The analogy is that what you have are a bunch of substitute teachers who are unable to manage (or are afraid of managing) a classroom of rowdy rough-n-tumbles. Calls take too long to resolve, or off-whistle stuff occurs (like fights) while the officials are looking elsewhere.
posted by CancerMan at 9:44 AM on September 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


Roger Goodell always looks like he just got caught telling a lie, and now he's struggling to come up with a better one.
posted by saladin at 9:44 AM on September 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


The only way that the NFL is going to budge on this is if the NFLPA refuses to cross the picket line. Without a product to put on the TV screens (replacement players were a financial disaster for the NFL back in the 80's) , the NFL has no reason to bend. However, given the nature & history of the NFLPA, I doubt they will support the Referees Union beyond some words of solidarity.
posted by KingEdRa at 9:44 AM on September 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Roger Goodell: "We need to distract NFL fans from this issue."
posted by Groundhog Week at 9:45 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


People are still watching the games. The only comparable replacement product is college football. Other than that, if people want to watch football, where else will they get it. They will get mad at the replacement refs, but will that actually cause anyone to not buy tickets to a game or turn it off?
posted by Hactar at 9:45 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have a hard time imagining that the NFL hasn't already lost more money than that thanks to the replacement crews.

Where would they have lost money? People are still going to games, people are still watching on TV.


Exactly. And, arguably, officiating drama is an essential part of the television product. This just adds to it.

I've taken a couple of seasons off from the NFL, but watched a (well-officiated) game a few weeks ago. I was seriously astounded at how often the commentators talked about the officials' decision-making process, the rules for particular referee procedures, etc. Nothing about their mistakes at all - this was part of the product with the unionized refs, too.
posted by downing street memo at 9:46 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've thought the announcers in general have been remarkably restrained in criticizing what has been some absolutely epically bad officiating. I will say, though, they they do seem extremely willing to review and overturn their bad calls, and generally seem to get it right the second time.

I've also noticed they seem to wander into the players' way a lot more than the regular refs. Taken together with all the missed calls, it really makes you realize how fast the action must move when you're on the ground with those world-class athletes, and how truly skilled and professional the regular officials are.
posted by something something at 9:52 AM on September 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


NPR posited that the league's tough stance in this case of insignificant money was perhaps to show strength ahead of future big money negotiations with players.
posted by haveanicesummer at 9:54 AM on September 20, 2012


If, as a fan, I am paying upwards of 200$ a ticket and having to wait 2mins between everyplay for the zebra shirt conversation I am seriously pissed. Baseball should be the only sport with 8hrs games. Football is bad enough with 45minute so-called 2 minute drills.

As a TV viewer though, I find all these game stoppages without commercials as hilarious. They can't cut to commercial because no one has any idea when a decision is going to be made so they're stuck with dead air and rambling commentators. It won't last, the NFL will probably just institute a 60 second referee review between each play so they can fit in 25 more internet explorer commercials.

"and it feels like i am just too close to loooove you... wump wump wump"
posted by M Edward at 9:54 AM on September 20, 2012 [10 favorites]


And, arguably, officiating drama is an essential part of the television product. This just adds to it.

This is the smartest thing I've read about the whole thing.
posted by docgonzo at 9:55 AM on September 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


The officiating has been a horror show but I will say that this ref and I share the exact same concern.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 9:56 AM on September 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


Where would they have lost money? People are still going to games, people are still watching on TV.

I have to imagine their operating costs have gone up since the games are taking so much longer, if nothing else. Monday's game went 3:40 compared to last year's average game length of just over 3 hours. The full costs of any additional injuries thanks to all the borderline stuff/outright fighting going on won't show up in the ledger yet, but they're also something to consider.

I also don't believe that all publicity is good publicity in football. They don't want this turning into a joke like the XFL. Or at least they shouldn't.
posted by Copronymus at 9:57 AM on September 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Last weekend, a couple hours prior to the Panthers-Saints kickoff, a replacement ref was pulled off the officiating roster on account of his unabashed love for the Saints as displayed on his facebook page. Given the outcome of the game I think this was a regrettable decision.
posted by gordie at 9:58 AM on September 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


In the Lions/49ers Sunday night game last week, the refs allowed San Fran to run no less than three different plays after the game or play clock had expired.

One play resulted in a roughing the kicker call, that allowed 49ers to score a touchdown instead of a field goal, and on another a TD occurred on the play in question. That's an eleven point swing in a game that ended with an eight point margin of victory.

Not that I'm bitter or anything.

Go Lions!
posted by WinnipegDragon at 10:01 AM on September 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


Roger Goodell and his 32 closest friends are Tony Soprano fuck you where's my money negotiators. When the fans find something better to do with their free time that will change but not before. I don't expect to see it before 2030.
posted by bukvich at 10:02 AM on September 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


The fundamental problem here is that American Football is an inelegant, patchwork, spaghetti-code wreck. The fact that the referees are such a fundamental part of the game should speak volumes.

There's not enough time in the day for me to rant on about football's deficiencies. I love the game, but it's pure torture to me to watch sometimes. I'm not talking about the refs. It's not their fault the rules are more complex and arcane than chess.
posted by Xoebe at 10:06 AM on September 20, 2012 [11 favorites]


I don't understand why we don't get our act together and just nationalize these teams. Green Bay looks to be doing fine, the stadiums are already paid for by the cities, what exactly are these "owners" good for?

Even better, why don't we just make a team that's owned by the Red Cross? According to wikipedia,

Based on the original "Articles of Incorporation for the (then) Green Bay Football Corporation" put into place in 1923, if the Packers franchise were to have been sold, after the payment of all expenses, any remaining money would go to the Sullivan Post of the American Legion in order to build "a proper soldier's memorial."
posted by The Ted at 10:08 AM on September 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


People are still watching the games. The only comparable replacement product is ...

Going outside and enjoying the day.

And, arguably, officiating drama is an essential part of the television product. This just adds to it.

Yep. The amount of money related to the game itself gets less and less. NFL is the worst.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:09 AM on September 20, 2012


As I was watching the Redskins - Rams game last week it was apparent that the replacement refs were not going to call late hits or unnecessary roughness. The defenses figured it out to and by the 4th quarter they were just teeing off on receivers. Somebody is going to end up paralyzed.
posted by COD at 10:10 AM on September 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


The Ted: Actually, NFL ownership rules explicitly bar any team other than the Packers, which was grandfathered in, from being community-owned.
posted by Cash4Lead at 10:12 AM on September 20, 2012


This week's games, starting with the Carolina v Big Blue game tonight are critical to a settlement (or not). I think the biggest concern is that the replacements (isn't that a band?) have lost control of the games in terms of the petty antics. I think the players will continue to push the line figuring snipey bs is worth it until you get caught. IF that happens, there will be even more pressure on the NFL to settle the issue, if not, it is a long way to go.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:13 AM on September 20, 2012


I think it is very funny that the one area of American life where there is any real significant public awareness of labor issues is in pro sports. The Fake sometimes gets Real.
posted by srboisvert at 10:16 AM on September 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


Cash4Lead: Yeah I know. I think that's just because the current owners see what a good idea this is, and want to prevent it. I sure didn't vote for those ownership "rules".
posted by The Ted at 10:18 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Of course you don't have that, you fuck. If you already have the money you don't need a pension. And pensions aren't disappearing because they can't survive in the big, mean world - they are disappearing because people like you refuse to acknowledge that anyone else is responsible for your success.

To be a bit nitpicky, defined benefit pensions (the kind that are at stake) are indeed disappearing because they can't survive in the big, mean world - or at least one where life expectancy is leaps and bounds ahead of what it was when defined benefit pensions were all the rage. Defined contribution pensions (which is presumably the type that Roger Goodell has) are doing pretty well.
posted by MUD at 10:20 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't understand why we don't get our act together and just nationalize these teams. Green Bay looks to be doing fine, the stadiums are already paid for by the cities, what exactly are these "owners" good for?

Siphoning off the profit from a quasi-public enterprise for private gain. There is nothing more American.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:23 AM on September 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Everything about the NFL now is inelastic for demand. There's nothing they can do to hurt the demand for the game. So the bottom line is they don't care.

Actually, considering the high level of general anti-union sentiment among the game's key demographics, the striking refs may be good for the league.
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:24 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


MUD: 401(k)s are doing well in the sense that they are growing in prevalence while defined-benefit pensions are vanishing. In the sense of actually supporting people through their retirement, not so much.
posted by Cash4Lead at 10:25 AM on September 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


As someone who does not understand or watch football, or sports in general, here's what I have gleaned from this:

1. Football is a game where men run into other men trying to catch a ball.
2. The rules surrounding when and how the men are allowed to run into each other is very complicated and nuanced.
3. It takes a lot of knowledge and skill at observation to tell if the men who ran into each other were allowed to do that.
4. That knowledge is hard to pick up.
5. Everyone terribly underestimated how hard it is to pick up that knowledge.
6. Watching the men run into each other is fun.
7. Not having someone with the knowledge of how the men are allowed to run into each other on the field to make decisions makes watching the men run into each other less fun.
posted by deathpanels at 10:26 AM on September 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


That pretty much applies to European football as well.

The real differences are in the TV commercials and timeouts.
posted by srboisvert at 10:32 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Cash4Lead: Agreed, and that is certainly a distinction worth making.
posted by MUD at 10:34 AM on September 20, 2012



If, as a fan, I am paying upwards of 200$ a ticket and having to wait 2mins between everyplay for the zebra shirt conversation I am seriously pissed.


Seriously pissed doesn't mean jack shit if:

1) You continue to go and buy shit from vendors
2) You renew your season ticket deal for next year (or if you are already locked in for a long term deal)
3) Everyone is still watching on TV
4) News cycles on this bring people who never watched the NFL anyway into the ratings by making them curious enough to turn on the TV
5) Advertisers continue to by space during games

I've yet to see anyone do anything other than be pissed. My favorite part is listening to Boomer Esiason and other knuckleheads talk about this on WFAN and speak about how 'the world is all about money and if people continue to spend money on the NFL then why should the owners care..it's sad' and yet be completely unable to bring that viewpoint outside football into their overall worldview on regular people and their plight. Mike Francesca being the absolute worst hypocrite in the regard.
posted by spicynuts at 10:40 AM on September 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Where would they have lost money? People are still going to games, people are still watching on TV.

You think no one has turned the TV off because they can't stand the bad calls? I'm sure some people have and that's lost money. There's also probably casual football fans who might turn on a game, but aren't because they keep hearing how terrible the games are with the scab refs. I'm sure this has cost the NFL some number of dollars that is greater than zero.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:41 AM on September 20, 2012


deathpanels: to put it in somewhat more dramatic terms, in an average NFL season no players are killed or permanently crippled by having very large, hyper-aggressive men hit them as hard as they can, in part due to the rules restricting how those hits are allowed to happen. If such rules are no longer consistently enforced, players will begin to use dangerous, nominally illegal modes of attack to gain an advantage in the game, with such practices becoming more and more prevalent until someone dies or suffers a disfiguring injury.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:41 AM on September 20, 2012


Here's a few things that could (and might) happen to force the NFL to negotiate...
1. Giant fight that lasts more than a few seconds.
2. A Tim Donaghy scandal with the replacement refs. Personally, if I were a big time bookie, I would already be trying to buy off some refs.
3. An elite quarterback suffering a potential career-ending injury on a clearly illegal play.
4. A series of blown calls that have an obvious direct effect on the game's outcome.
posted by drezdn at 10:42 AM on September 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't understand why we don't get our act together and just nationalize these teams.

I actually want to see a team run as a player owned cooperative. It would be illegal under the NFL rules about who can own franchises, but either be a fascinating experiment in alternative forms of ownership or a source of serious lulz, so it's a win-win from the fan's perspective.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:44 AM on September 20, 2012


Where would they have lost money? People are still going to games, people are still watching on TV.

I suspect the gambling community will be the ones who can put pressure on the league about this. Vegas is why we have the whole Out/Questionable/Doubtful/Probable scale for injury reporting. If the sportsbooks find that game results are becoming less predictable, they will have something to say.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:45 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


A Tim Donaghy scandal with the replacement refs. Personally, if I were a big time bookie, I would already be trying to buy off some refs.

I believe it was one of the Philly Eagles who went on the radio Monday and said one of the refs had shouted to him "Let's get going, man, I've got you on my Fantasy team."

Anyone recall what I'm talking about?
posted by spicynuts at 10:45 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


One egregious thing that has happened already is an official in this week's Seahawks game had previously been on the Seahawk's payroll. It's my understanding that he still worked the game.
posted by drezdn at 10:45 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


To be a bit nitpicky, defined benefit pensions (the kind that are at stake) are indeed disappearing because they can't survive in the big, mean world - or at least one where life expectancy is leaps and bounds ahead of what it was when defined benefit pensions were all the rage.

Actuaries, mathematicians and insurance companies would disagree.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 10:46 AM on September 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Money talks, bullshit walks.

Kudos to Steve Young for calling everyone out -- fans included* -- on their bullshit on national cable TV.

I officially forgive him for stealing Joe Montana's job.

---------------------
*That's what "inelastic demand" means.
posted by notyou at 10:46 AM on September 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Anyone recall what I'm talking about?

It's mentioned elsewhere in this thread. LeSean McCoy.
posted by drezdn at 10:46 AM on September 20, 2012


> I'm sure this has cost the NFL some number of dollars that is greater than zero.

Not even close. The stadiums are almost all sold out for the season with season ticket buyers waiting list. Most of their dough comes from television contracts which are done far in advance and zooming up exponentially.

The Super Bowl and the playoff games are the highest television ratings and most expensive advertising minutes of the entire annual American economy. These guys have so much power it makes you want to puke if you think about it long enough which is why I am going to stop reading this thread real soon now.
posted by bukvich at 10:50 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


The only NFL revenues that are elastic in the short term are ticket sales for the very few teams that don't sell out every game (Jaguars are the only one that comes to mind), and merchandise sales.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:53 AM on September 20, 2012


One argument I've seen from pro-Scab people is that they should just train the refs more.

The thing is, the refs that are on strike worked their way up to their position. They are the best, most experienced people for calling football games.

The replacements aren't even from the triple A (division 1 college football) because they know if they crossed the line they won't ever become NFL refs. So the replacements are from division III or lower (one guy called a high school football game last week).

It's like trying to move a baseball player from single A to the big leagues, it would take years of training for it to work for most people.
posted by drezdn at 10:54 AM on September 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


One of the most interesting things I've heard was from one of the commentators -- don't remember which. He pointed out that with the best available (i.e., the regular pro officials) gone, you'd ordinarily go to the next-best. But you can't, because it's also college football season, so the Division I and even Division II refs are spoken for. The replacement refs are coming from, like, Division III and other weirdo conferences. They're simply not ready from prime time. It's like asking someone to go from playing a non-speaking role in a community theater production to playing the starring role on Broadway because the diva called in sick.
posted by mudpuppie at 10:54 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Um, or what drezdn said.
posted by mudpuppie at 10:55 AM on September 20, 2012


I suspect the gambling community will be the ones who can put pressure on the league about this.

I have a feeling the networks will start harrumphing in Goodell's general direction pretty soon, especially when CBS starts getting calls from oldsters complaining that 60 Minutes is being delayed yet again because the refs are slowing down the 4:00 games.
posted by Etrigan at 10:55 AM on September 20, 2012


I have huge respect for Steve Young as an analyst, heard him a ton on KNB (SF radio), but I've some doubts about his view.

As drezdn suggested, I think the lock out ends the minute someone like Tom Brady, Andrew Luck, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning (or some othe elite player) has a season- or career-ending injury from a late hit or one that's flagged after people had been getting away with similar hits.
posted by ambient2 at 11:00 AM on September 20, 2012


Not even close. The stadiums are almost all sold out for the season with season ticket buyers waiting list. Most of their dough comes from television contracts which are done far in advance and zooming up exponentially.

The fact that they're still making a ton of money doesn't mean it can't cost them money. I'm guessing that TV ratings are lower than they would be without replacement refs, due to longer games, frustration with bad calls, people turning off games because of all the post-play shoving, union solidarity, whatever. That's not to say the TV ratings are lower, just that they're not where they could be. Those lower ratings (and network's being upset about games pushing into other programming) would translate into a lower than it would have been without the replacement refs TV contract when those renew.

It probably is a tiny amount of money that the NFL won't even notice or think about, but it's greater than zero.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:03 AM on September 20, 2012


It might not influence the league's bootom line but if you're an owner whose team misses the playoffs because of an extra timeout (or because your receiving corps is in traction), you stand to lose alot.

If Jerry Jones' Cowboys lose a close game because of the refs, I wouldn't be shocked if comtract were settled that week.
posted by drezdn at 11:03 AM on September 20, 2012


If Jerry Jones' Cowboys lose a close game because of the refs, I wouldn't be shocked if comtract were settled that week.

They're not going to need the refs. They'll do it just fine on their own.

/frustrated Cowboys fan
posted by mudpuppie at 11:06 AM on September 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


Why the fuck would these people nickel-and-dime the refs? They're obscenely profitable.

Refs are talent, too. And you'll keep a good ref a hell of a longer than a good player.

Absolutely they should have an excellent pension. The fact that it's even a fight is just pure greed on the part of management.
posted by Malor at 11:09 AM on September 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


we watched the steve young comment live and we were applauding and yelling along in support. i think he's correct that using scab refs shows absolutely that all the league's bellyaching about player safety was about reducing their exposure to lawsuits, not actual safety of the men who put their well being and longevity on the line.

during the preseason, i wondered if all the complaining about the refs was because the players' union knows that this affects their future negotiations (and a lot of announcers are former players/coaches), but as the season got started it became obvious that the refs are straight up scared of the players. more fights are happening, more late hits, more soccer style flopping. the players are in danger and the nfl doesn't care - and it goes back to steve young being right again - we as fans don't care enough either.
posted by nadawi at 11:16 AM on September 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


If Jerry Jones' Cowboys lose a close game because of the refs, I wouldn't be shocked if comtract were settled that week.

They're not going to need the refs. They'll do it just fine on their own.


Glad a frustrated Cowboys fan said it before I had to be the asshole.

I know I should be upset-with-the-NFL-to-the-point-of-stopping-watching because of head injuries but for some reason, this whole refuse to the pay the refs thing has almost become my breaking point. I'm afraid that it's because the whole 'not going to give you one more cent than I have to part with' thing is just so currently aligned in my wired-weird brain to make me feel like Mitt Romney owns an NFL team of something.

(They'd be called the Utah Zzzz's and their jock straps would be hilarious.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:23 AM on September 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


Since I just put it up this morning I'll self-promote a bit & point out a chart of weekly penalty calls from this year vs. the same chart last year. The number of penalties is actually up (if you look at the data back to 2000 it seems to fluctuate between 170 & 210 per week, not sure why so much variance), but I agree with the people above who've said that the little procedural things are what's really annoying -- the constant 5-minute huddles to figure out what's going on, the spotting and then re-spotting (and sometimes RE-re-spotting) of the ball after a penalty, generally looking like they're trying to figure stuff out on the fly.

Games feel like they're taking forever (193 min/game vs. 187 min/game for non-overtime games last year) & I have yet to manage to watch a 1:00 game to its conclusion & still manage to catch the beginning of a 4:00 game.
posted by zempf at 11:24 AM on September 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Looks like I picked the right time to drop cable TV after all.
posted by ckape at 11:52 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Deadspin's roundup of the worst calls from last week.
posted by Cash4Lead at 11:54 AM on September 20, 2012


It's a shame the players didn't stand in solidarity.
posted by Brocktoon at 12:16 PM on September 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


The only NFL revenues that are elastic in the short term are ticket sales for the very few teams that don't sell out every game (Jaguars are the only one that comes to mind), and merchandise sales.

You're thinking of the Bucs, not the Jaguars.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 12:24 PM on September 20, 2012


the players standing in solidarity is a tricky thing - their agreement with the league has strict rules about how a strike can go down (basically, it can't), and anything short of a strike is difficult, because they're bound by specific rules about how and when they can talk about officiating/officials. the announcers are just waiting for one of the players or coaches to go off on the refs in a post game interview, because it'll mean big fines (and then incessant coverage on the rule break).
posted by nadawi at 12:25 PM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nah, Jaguars. This was a while ago, but there was talk of an impending move to Los Angeles because the team couldn't sell out a single home game without local radio stations buying blocks of tickets (which were never actually distributed to fans – this was just to satisfy the league's insane blackout rule, which would prevent the games from being broadcast near Jacksonville if they don't sell out), and was resorting to covering entire sections with team-colored tarps so the empty chairs wouldn't show up on-camera.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:27 PM on September 20, 2012


FWIW, I'm actually a fan of football because of the way their labor contracts are set up. This is the opposite of baseball European football (i.e. non-American soccer) or hell, even college basketball, where it's essentially the same 5% of the teams constantly living in the playoffs. The artificially low salary cap in football keeps the teams within reach of each other.

I mean, look at the odds on picking the two teams in the Super Bowl on day 1 of the season compared to picking the two teams in the World Series on day 1. Granted, there are generations like the 49ers and Cowboys of the 80's, heck, even the Bills to a lesser extent. But those teams essentially had to make sacrifices in other places to accomplish those feats. But the Yankees are even money to be there, for the next 20 years.

As a fan, I find the NFL much more enjoyable to watch because of that. I'm sure the players don't feel the same way, but then again I have a hard time feeling sorry for any group where the average salary puts them in the top 1% of all earners in the entire country. But just for clarity sake, I think the owners are exponentially worse in that standpoint.
posted by Blue_Villain at 1:02 PM on September 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I can't wait until these bozos are gone and I can watch Hercules Hochuli explain the rules of football to me again.
posted by Elly Vortex at 1:03 PM on September 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Granted, there are generations like the 49ers and Cowboys of the 80's, heck, even the Bills to a lesser extent.

IIRC, those dynasties all came before the salary cap (for the most part... It looks like it started in 1994). There have been a few dynasty teams since (Pittsburgh, New England, and to a lesser extent The Giants), but the salary cap has definitely worked.

It's the complete opposite of basketball, where it's usually easy to pick which teams will be in the finals.
posted by drezdn at 1:14 PM on September 20, 2012


I miss Mike Carey.
posted by drezdn at 1:16 PM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Games feel like they're taking forever (193 min/game vs. 187 min/game for non-overtime games last year)

Is an extra six minutes, once you're already past the three hour mark, really all that palpable?
posted by yoink at 1:26 PM on September 20, 2012


drezdn - mike carey has been a fairly frequent topic of conversation in our house this season. we miss him more than we thought we would. have you seen this clip from soundfx between brett favre and mike carey? he was already our favorite, but that made him our super favorite.
posted by nadawi at 1:34 PM on September 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


From Drew Magery:
People try to frame business struggles like this in moral terms (see Mr. Gregggggg below). The refs are greedy! They only work part-time! They have other jobs! People talk about shit like this as if it matters. As if having one job means you don't have the right to try and get more money at another job. That's complete bullshit. This is America. If you have a unique skill set, and you think can leverage more money out of someone who wants your services, there's NOTHING wrong with that. If you think the NFL will eventually cave simply because the league doesn't want its brand to suffer from all the shitty refereeing, you might lose, but you're not being un-American. There's nothing more American than trying to squeeze other motherfuckers for every last penny. There are no "fair" offers. There is only the best offer, and it's your goddamn right to see if you can get it. There's this bizarre mentality that there are only, like, six productive people in the country, all of whom are billionaires. They rest of us simply make money at their behest. Forget 47 percent. I'm talking about virtually everyone being devalued. I don't really know how it came to that, because it's so innately fucked up. If you think you have a skill worth leveraging against the Ginger Hammer and his big stupid face, you have every right to see it through.
posted by drezdn at 1:38 PM on September 20, 2012 [13 favorites]


Could the owners come off as more vile and disgusting in this fight? I just don't get what's in it for them to pick a fight like this. Maybe they feel like its their own tiny bit solidarity with Scott Walker or something?
posted by newdaddy at 1:44 PM on September 20, 2012


I mean, look at the odds on picking the two teams in the Super Bowl on day 1 of the season compared to picking the two teams in the World Series on day 1.

A bit of a threadjack, but there are a lot of other factors in this beyond "salary parity". The first that comes to mind is that the NFL season is 16 games vs. Baseballs 162. Random factors play a much larger factor with your statistical sample is 16 vs one an order of magnitude larger. Team has a bad day, you've only got 15 other games.

Lose a player for two weeks in the NFL? That's 12.5% of your season (unless it happens to be your bye week). In baseball that's probably 7 or 8%. Baseball teams (hope to) have 4 solid starters, lose one and you've still got three others, plus a long season workout something else. Lose your star QB and sometimes you've got to just write off the season.

/w
posted by Walleye at 1:46 PM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is an extra six minutes, once you're already past the three hour mark, really all that palpable?

Early games start at 1 p.m. Late games start at 4:15. So if there's a late game you want to see, around the three-hour mark, every minute counts – at 3:15 elapsed, you're jumping straight from the final whistle of one to the opening kickoff of the other. Every minute past that, you either miss the end of the first game or the beginning of the second – assuming you're inclined to sit on your couch through two games and weren't planning to, y'know, fix some food or go outside for a bit in the intermission.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:52 PM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's also the case that the extra time is just completely dead time where refs are conferring or someone's yelling at them, so it feels like it drags even more than it actually does. The game on Monday that nearly got to 4 hours was excruciating. There's only 60 minutes of time on the clock, so, at best, that telecast containted nearly 3 hours of things other than the game actually being played.
posted by Copronymus at 2:06 PM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


> There's only 60 minutes of time on the clock

Hah! The ball is in play an average of eleven minutes.
posted by bukvich at 2:16 PM on September 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


The game lasting 6 minutes longer really matters when it's pre-empting your favorite TV show that was supposed to air after the game finished, which was about the only time I watched football. And then rejoin your show already in progress and you missed all the set up and you can't watch it online because that doesn't exist yet and everybody you know with a VCR had the same football game and you just have to hope you catch the re-run.
posted by ckape at 2:22 PM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


My dad liked football, and I remember when I was a kid and learning about time that "five minutes" when it came to when we were leaving the beach was an entirely different creature from "five minutes" of football time. I think this is one of the reasons I love baseball: there's no clock.
posted by rtha at 2:47 PM on September 20, 2012


I liked this part:

OK, they even messed that up as official Craig Ochoa announced the wrong team won the toss. That snafu was replayed a few thousand times and set the inevitable narrative.

These guys (and one gal) were clowns, scabs and disasters waiting to happen. Mike Pereira, the former NFL vice president of officiating and current Fox analyst, accused the league of embellishing some replacements' credentials.

He said Ochoa had no real BCS experience and was bounced by the Lingerie League. The NFL shot back that Ochoa “was not dismissed from his position as a referee in the LFL.”


(Source)
posted by bukvich at 4:11 PM on September 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Nah, Jaguars.

Number of games the Jaguars had blacked out in 2011? Zero.
Number of games the Jaguars have had blacked out in the past five years? Seven.

By those metrics, the Bucs, Bengals, Bills, Lions, and Chargers are worse (and hey, the Chargers game on Sunday will be blacked out) on at least one count, and all of those except Buffalo are larger metro areas.

This was a while ago, but there was talk of an impending move to Los Angeles because the team couldn't sell out a single home game without local radio stations buying blocks of tickets (which were never actually distributed to fans – this was just to satisfy the league's insane blackout rule, which would prevent the games from being broadcast near Jacksonville if they don't sell out)

And the chance of the Jaguars moving to L.A. right now is basically zero—you're talking about a cash-strapped California county or municipality coughing up tens of millions of dollars for construction costs, in this economy? I'm also not sure where you're getting the idea that tickets weren't distributed to fans; some were.

and was resorting to covering entire sections with team-colored tarps so the empty chairs wouldn't show up on-camera.

No, the truth of the matter is that the stadium has to be larger than the minimum capacity required by the NFL so that it can continue to host the Gator Bowl. Granted, when times weren't quite as lean, they were able to put sections on sale and go above the required capacity, but the idea that they've artificially shrunk the stadium just doesn't hold water.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 4:20 PM on September 20, 2012


Be that as it may, I was thinking about the Jags. With a bit more thought I would have recalled the Lions, but I didn't.

And it was pre-economopocalypse, so a move was technically feasible, but even it was clearly never going to happen - if it did, asshole owners would have no go-to threat they could dangle over host cities when they wanted a new stadium.

Didn't know that about the stadium (and apparently neither did the sportswriters I was reading).
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:24 PM on September 20, 2012


Yeah, if the stadium at the Meadowlands had to be large enough to hold half the proportion (and I'm saying half only because New York has two teams) of the New York metro area that Jacksonville's stadium can hold of its own metro area, it could hold the entire population of Staten Island and a sellout crowd from any other NFL stadium.

A full house in Jacksonville is larger than one in Chicago, Indianapolis, Oakland, Arizona, Minnesota, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Tampa, St. Louis, or Seattle.

The Jaguars don't have a huge pool of potential ticket buyers to draw from, but they do what they can.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 5:08 PM on September 20, 2012


One other way the scabs are hurting the game: Teams that rely on wearing down the opponent or beating them with speed through a no huddle offense or two minute drill will be less effective if the officials take too much time making calls.
posted by drezdn at 8:41 PM on September 20, 2012


Why Are the NFL Refs Locked Out? It's All in the Game, Dave Zirin and Mike Elk, The Nation, 22 August, 2012
Consider the multibillion-dollar entity that is the National Football League. Then consider that NFL referees are 119 part-time employees who make $8,000 a week. As Jeff MacGregor calculated at espn.com, at a cost of $50 million a year—less than one percent of total revenue—NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell could hire 200 full-time officials at $250,000 a year. Conversely, if Goodell gets everything he wants from the referees union and he doesn’t have to spend too much in legal fees, it works out to league-wide savings of just $62,000 per team.
posted by ob1quixote at 11:50 PM on September 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Guy who works in the same building I do is an NFL ref - his day job is writing flight software for NASA spacecraft. The NFL is lucky to have a guy like this - astonishingly intelligent, incredibly easy-going, and he has a palpable affection for the game. That they would just casually discard the efforts of a guy like this, for no other reason than to save a few bucks, or make a political point, is absolutely unbelievable to me.
posted by newdaddy at 11:53 PM on September 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


I get it now. I get it.

This has nothing at all to do with the refs - nothing. The owners are saying here, if you work for us, your health care costs later in life are your own. That's the thing, right there.

I'm trying ... to imagine ...a class of employees the owners have ... other than the refs, I mean... that this issue might be somehow relevant to. Uhhhh... maybe it's ... Oh, I don't know...
posted by newdaddy at 12:23 AM on September 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


oh yeah, they aren't even really trying very hard to hide their true motives. that's the other side of "they don't care about players safety" - now or in the future.
posted by nadawi at 12:37 AM on September 21, 2012


Gee, maybe the players choosing not to stand in solidarity with the refs is not the wisest thing they could have done, all things considered. Seems like a proxy fight for the players' long term health care costs, to me. Refs are taking the hit, players keep on playin', owners keep on ownin'. Cause it won't be too long -
posted by newdaddy at 12:38 AM on September 21, 2012


again - not a legitimate choice the players have available to them. they are bound by the collective bargaining agreement which doesn't allow for striking in this instance.
posted by nadawi at 1:01 AM on September 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think it's made the games more interesting. Sorry. But give the refs their pensions. Geez.
posted by Kokopuff at 8:15 AM on September 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I heard on the radio that the NFL has contacted team owners, general manager, and head coaches and told them NOT to give the replacement refs a hard time. The insinuation is that fines or suspensions or in-game penalties will be assessed if there's any yelling or disrespect shown to the officials.

I've always thought that was one thing the regular referees had that these new refs don't; respect. Coaches and players yell at refs all the time, and it all just washes off the striped shirts like nothing. It's starting to appear rather obvious that these new refs don't have the mental fortitude to handle it, and the league is going to force everyone else to cooperate and play nice until they do.

Yeah.
posted by CancerMan at 9:58 AM on September 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


From that The Nation ^^^ article above:

“You've never paid for an NFL ticket to watch someone officiate a game.”

Christ, what an asshole.

Yes, NFL fans HAVE paid for an NFL ticket to watch someone officiate a game. They do it EVERY game.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:38 AM on September 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


“You've never paid for an NFL ticket to watch someone officiate a game.”

Christ, what an asshole.

Yes, NFL fans HAVE paid for an NFL ticket to watch someone officiate a game. They do it EVERY game.


Exactly. What NFL fans don't pay for is to see Peyton Manning or Aaron Rodgers or their own particular franchise player go down to a career-ending injury that would have been prevented by a referee penalizing a defender earlier in the game for taking cheap shots. That's why the quarterback and receivers get more protected year in and year out -- no one wants to see Julian Edelman throwing to Brandon Lloyd because Tom Brady and Wes Welker got taken out on stretchers. (Okay, some assholes do want to see that, but they'd change their tunes immediately if Brady and Welker came to their team.)

Someone's going to get hurt bad this season, and it will be because these refs couldn't control the players, and the NFLPA will go apeshit over it, and that will cost the league a lot more than what the refs were asking for.
posted by Etrigan at 11:19 AM on September 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


NFLPA calls on NFL to end the lockout.
posted by drezdn at 2:34 PM on September 23, 2012


Darrius Beyward-Bey took a pretty nasty hit in today's game.
posted by drezdn at 4:51 PM on September 23, 2012


After last night's Patriots-Ravens game, I'm done watching football until the real officials are back. That was a travesty.
posted by Rock Steady at 4:11 AM on September 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Replacement ref trips a player with his hat.
posted by drezdn at 5:48 AM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


After last night's Patriots-Ravens game, I'm done watching football until the real officials are back. That was a travesty.

It was, but hearing a crowd of thousands chant "bullshit" in perfect concert with excellent diction was sort of amazing.
posted by gladly at 6:21 AM on September 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


After last night's Patriots-Ravens game, I'm done watching football until the real officials are back. That was a travesty.

Now I'm sorry I missed it - what happened?
posted by never used baby shoes at 8:06 AM on September 24, 2012


After last night's Patriots-Ravens game, I'm done watching football until the real officials are back. That was a travesty.

Now I'm sorry I missed it - what happened?


I think it's only a "travesty" if you are a Patriots fan.

Controversy surrounds refs after Patriots-Ravens

'The "NFL GameDay Final" crew discusses the reaction of New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick after he confronted officials following a close call at the end of regulation.'

5 takeaways from Patriots-Ravens

'Somewhere between penalty No. 1 and penalty No. 3, there was an ominous sign that Sunday night's game was going to be New England's personal case against replacement officials.'
posted by mrgrimm at 8:21 AM on September 24, 2012


It was a total shitshow. There were multiple ticky-tack flags thrown that even the announcers couldn't explain, while blatant penalties elsewhere on the same play were ignored. Harbaugh himself got called for Unsportsmanlike Conduct. Players were tussling and fighting after almost every play, and there was constant whining and screaming at the officials. It took far too long to sort out even the most mundane calls -- including frequent input from sideline NFL personnel. You could tell the players were completely thrown off their game by the seemingly random nature of the flags. For a while, they were OK playing it a bit rough and physical, but then the slightest hand check would get flagged.

As a Patriots fan, I'm furious about the outcome, and even I will admit that the PI on the last drive of the game was an obvious call, but even when the Pats looked to have the game in hand it was not enjoyable to watch in the slightest, and I decided to give up on the NFL until after the lockout is over when it looked like the Patriots were going to win. Honestly, the Ravens probably got the shit end of the stick as far as the officiating went, but there was plenty of shit to go around.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:26 AM on September 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Thanks guys - I'm not a Pats fan, but that game does look like a complete mess.

I still think it's going to take a pretty major incident - a very clearly blown call that costs someone a game (The Ravens FG looked good to me) or serious injury as a result of a blown call - before the NFL gets serious about this.
posted by never used baby shoes at 8:36 AM on September 24, 2012


And what about the niners getting two free replay reviews? Embarrassing.

I want to see one of these coaches just pull his whole team off the field mid-game in disgust.
posted by Big_B at 12:33 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Big_B: I want to see one of these coaches just pull his whole team off the field mid-game in disgust.


I was actually doing a little casual googling during the Patriots-Ravens to see if the NFL had anything like MLB's "protest" rule (scroll to the bottom). It doesn't appear that they do, which is probably for the best this year.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:55 PM on September 24, 2012


never used baby shoes: "very clearly blown call that costs someone a game [...] or serious injury as a result of a blown call "

Done and done.

The blown calls changing outcomes:
2. They've affected the outcomes of games. Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio today explicitly stated that "the league has not (yet) had a game that was decided by a bad call at a critical moment." This is a lie. Florio is assuming that a critical moment is some play that comes at the very end of a game, but all plays are critical. Webb's pick was critical. To say those refs didn't "cost" the Ravens that game suggests they had no effect on the outcome, which is breathtakingly wrong (the Pats were victimized by a number of horrible calls, too).

These refs are affecting virtually every play. Players and coaches have no confidence in these games being governed in a proper manner, and that affects personal conduct, timeout use, play-calling, everything. It's not a matter of affecting the end of a game. This is affecting the entire game. Hop in a time machine and plug in competent refs for Week 3 and I promise you that the results would have been markedly different in ways that none of us could begin to know.
The non-calls getting players hurt:
3. They're getting players hurt. Darrius Heyward-Bey got knocked unconscious yesterday. Tony Romo got destroyed on a helmet-to-helmet hit. In neither case was a flag thrown. At this point, players are treating helmet-to-helmet fines as a kind of added tax. There's been no marked increase in player safety this season. Matt Schaub got Mr. Blonded out there yesterday. If players feel like they can get away with more shit, they will. That's why you're seeing so many after-play scuffles.
This is a catastrophe, and it's devalued the product far more than the few million dollars it would take to get a deal done. The NFL clearly is willing to injure or kill the golden goose to stick it to the union.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:09 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


More directly, Tennessee beat Detroit on a field goal that was set up by the officials marking a 15-yard penalty from the Detroit 44-yard-line instead of the Titans' 44, giving the winners twelve free yards in their final scoring drive.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:14 PM on September 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish: "More directly, Tennessee beat Detroit on a field goal that was set up by the officials marking a 15-yard penalty from the Detroit 44-yard-line instead of the Titans' 44, giving the winners twelve free yards in their final scoring drive."

Yeah, and my understanding is that this is all happening under supervision of the NFL, which has added some sort of supervisor at each game to oversee the scab refs. I heard reference to this fact during the radio broadcast of the Eagles/Cards game, in which the refs lost track of what down it was, which led to this epic sequence of events.

The fact that they can't get the calls right even with a league-assigned babysitter overseeing things tells you just how good the real refs were at running a tight ship. It's not that they never made mistakes, but when they did, it was usually in the judgement call category, not in the "doesn't understand the rules of the game" category.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:36 PM on September 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wow. Here's the sequence of events in the Detroit-Tennessee screwup referenced above.
posted by notyou at 1:36 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh god, that's what that ridiculousness was in Cards/Eagles? Even the announcers had no clue why it took so long. I probably should have noticed, but I was distracted by Michael Vick's slow transformation into a pinata.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:40 PM on September 24, 2012


Good points, tonycpsu. I haven't been following the NFL too closely so far, so I've missed a lot of this.

The real refs should just sit back and wait. The longer this goes on, the more teams will be putting pressure on the league.
posted by never used baby shoes at 1:50 PM on September 24, 2012


Well, it's official -- the refs cost a team the game (the Packers, in this case).
posted by inigo2 at 8:54 PM on September 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


If that finish does not get the two sides to come to agreement, nothing will.

I am a huge Big Blue, NY Giants fan, and there are few teams I hate to see win more than the Pack, but I am embarrassed for the league here and think they should award that game to the Packers. The Packers won. Jennings intercepted that clearly. Even if you consider the simultaneous possession rule.

Class act by the Packers to even come back out and line-up for the extra point.

Or, as @Dadboner tweeted:

If I was a Packer fan, my TV would be smashed in about a thousand pieces, you guys. Man.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:26 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: Packers lose in bizarre finish after disputed touchdown call by officials

SportsCenter, meanwhile, is losing it. And rightly so.
posted by Cash4Lead at 9:28 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


We're srsly talking about a dispute over 3 million per year in a sports league that makes 9 billion in profits and rising?

The owners are holding, with clenched fists, onto ... 1/3rd of 1/10th of 1% of one year of NFL profits.

Plus owners of even the worst teams are virtually guaranteed to make massive profits b/c player salaries are capped at 59.5% of gross revenue.

These guys must get up pretty early in the morning and work hard at it all day to be assholes of this magnitude.
posted by airing nerdy laundry at 9:29 PM on September 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is the least satisfied I've ever felt about a big win. I can't even enjoy this.
posted by MoonOrb at 9:29 PM on September 24, 2012


If the real refs don't come back, the Internet is going to melt down and we will all die.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:35 PM on September 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wilson was the first quarterback to throw a game winning interception. Great comment from Twitter.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:41 PM on September 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


I can't tease out the video of just the post-game interview but I just saw it.
Reporter: "Did you push off?"
Golden Tate: "I don't know what you're talking about. I don't know what you're talking about."
posted by ob1quixote at 9:48 PM on September 24, 2012


And now the Lingerie Football League is piling on, saying the NFL is using refs that even it considered incompetent.
posted by Cash4Lead at 10:13 PM on September 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hmmm ... so NFL owners:

* Are insanely greedy

* Will risk destroying any institution in order to save a few pennies by breaking unions and freezing pensions

* Love to siphon off public funds to pay for their stadiums, while making every possible $ of profit private

What political party might you suppose these owners identify with?
posted by airing nerdy laundry at 11:01 PM on September 24, 2012


I'm really wavering about watching any games next week. Someone's going to get killed out there. I'm a Steelers fan but Ryan Mundy should totally have gotten a penalty and probably thrown out of the game on Sunday for knocking Heyward-Bey out with a helmet hit. Players have realized that they can get away with almost anything and are taking advantage.
posted by octothorpe at 4:54 AM on September 25, 2012


At this point, the Refs should add demands that anyone getting fined for complaining about the scabs get their money back.
posted by drezdn at 5:17 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


At this point, the Refs should add demands that anyone getting fined for complaining about the scabs get their money back.

There was a tweet from one of the Packers last night/this morning that (paraphrased bc I can't find it) "screw it, just fine me nfl and put the money towards the refs".
posted by inigo2 at 5:42 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Inigo2, it was TJ Lang. Bunch of tweets from players are here.

Yes, I'm worried about people getting killed at this point, too. The refs aren't calling shit like this from the Ravens/Pats game is just going to ramp up the violence in the game with the scabs officiating.
posted by frecklefaerie at 5:59 AM on September 25, 2012


That tweet, and a few, uh, choice others.
posted by inigo2 at 6:00 AM on September 25, 2012


Just watched the GB Seattle game. That was ... unbelievable. And not even just the final play. Horrible calls throughout and the referees obviously had no control over the game - players and coaches yelling at them while they took minutes to decide mundane calls.

I'm surprised the teams are even showing up at this point. This season now has an asterisk next to it, the refs call with no consistency or reason. If you're a professional player or coach, what's the point anymore?

Will be interesting to see crowd, player and coach reaction when they get the professionals back. Have refs ever received a standing ovation when walking onto the field?

Until then, I'll be watching college ball.
posted by mosessis at 6:00 AM on September 25, 2012


Seeing tweets that there are people protesting outside of Lambeau Field.

If you though the B.S. chant was loud in Baltimore, just wait until Sunday.
posted by drezdn at 6:05 AM on September 25, 2012


Will be interesting to see crowd, player and coach reaction when they get the professionals back. Have refs ever received a standing ovation when walking onto the field?

Of course, the other interesting moment will be when the pro refs make a bad call.
posted by inigo2 at 6:05 AM on September 25, 2012


Have to wonder how much stuff like this will influence the NFL (via):
If the Hail Mary pass by Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson were ruled an interception by Packers safety M.D. Jennings, Green Bay -- 3½ point favorites -- would have won by five, covering the spread.

Instead, the replacement officials' call that Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate had possession shifted all those that bet on the Packers to those that took the underdog Seahawks.

"Most of the customers in the sports book were not happy with the final call," said John Avello, director of the race and sports book at the Wynn in Las Vegas. "The shift was 100 percent. After the (Seahawks) score, all bets were reversed."
posted by inigo2 at 6:26 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've been saying all along that Vegas is the only entity with enough muscle to move the needle on this. Hopefully Monday night helps with that.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:44 AM on September 25, 2012


Roger's Goodell's twitter feed has been silent since September 6th. Probably a wise move on his part.
posted by codacorolla at 7:10 AM on September 25, 2012


That final play last night was horrendous. And what takes it over the top for me is not just the fact that it was so wrong and that it cost one team the game - it's the fact that of the two refs standing over top of the pile, neither gets it right: one signals a touchdown and the other an incomplete pass...it's just mind boggling.
posted by never used baby shoes at 7:21 AM on September 25, 2012


Just in case anyone was wondering who had that ball (and of course no one is, because it was obviously Jennings), here is the proof.
posted by King Bee at 7:31 AM on September 25, 2012


This was a game in which the team who had the opportunity to be screwed last lost.
posted by never used baby shoes at 8:03 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Scott Walker seems to have had a change of heart with respect to union-busting.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 8:17 AM on September 25, 2012


Whoops, that link is wrong - it should go here: Grantland instead of back to this thread.
posted by never used baby shoes at 8:22 AM on September 25, 2012


You know the ref is sitting at home thinking "nailed it!"
posted by drezdn at 8:50 AM on September 25, 2012


Scott Walker seems to have had a change of heart with respect to union-busting.

That's just magical.

If you though the B.S. chant was loud in Baltimore, just wait until Sunday.

I'm dreading it. Philadelphia's reputation is, perhaps, a little spotty already when it comes to vocal dissatisfaction. And I could do without another opportunity for the national media to trot out the Santa story again.
posted by gladly at 9:24 AM on September 25, 2012


I actually saw the one official waving his hands to signal a dead ball, not incomplete pass, which would result from an interception and touchback.

What's mind-bogglingly idiotic is that both officials should have looked at each other and conferred. "What did you see? Here's what I saw." And the referee should have gone in and in that conference they should have discussed the ruling.

I am not expecting these replacement officials to make perfect decisions (heck I wasn't expecting perfection from the regular ones), but one thing the regular officials did well was confer to try and get the right call. It's all part of managing the game, and it is this sort of thing that really riles everybody. I think coaches, players, and some fans really want a game where we can expect a decent effort to get things right.
posted by CancerMan at 10:11 AM on September 25, 2012


One of my long and loud complaints about football, especially the college variety, is how much impact the officiating has on the outcome. Last night's NFL game was decided on a bad call on the last play? It happens all the time in college football, with the real refs. It happens in the NFL too, just not as much (which goes to show how good NFL refs are).

What's mind-bogglingly idiotic is that both officials should have looked at each other and conferred. "What did you see? Here's what I saw." And the referee should have gone in and in that conference they should have discussed the ruling.

But that's the thing. That's Advanced Refereeing 212. Seeing the play and making the right call is challenge enough; collaborating in real time while 80,000 people scream at you is more than I expect from any scabs.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:13 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


And from that Grantland article, yeah, people always underestimate the importance/difficulty of the scorer/clock manager/administrative stuff. I'm not surprised at all they're losing track of downs/timeouts/field position.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:16 AM on September 25, 2012


But that's the thing. That's Advanced Refereeing 212. Seeing the play and making the right call is challenge enough; collaborating in real time while 80,000 people scream at you is more than I expect from any scabs.

I agree, but only as far as having to make these calls when the game moves at NFL speed. Pop Warner and high school officials (at least, in my area) do strive to make the right calls and will confer when there's any question. I think having a conference is Refereeing 101, whilst 212 is more of a practical application of theoretical concepts.

Unfortunately, I don't think this fubar will change anything. There are a couple of ESPN articles that sum up my feelings that the NFL and the owners simply don't care about the quality of the product when ratings are at an all-time high, and this lockout is a power/money grab in order to exert more control over employees.
posted by CancerMan at 11:03 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


The ref who signaled touchback? NFL Europe and Big 12 reffing experience...
The ref who signaled touchdown? Junior College and lower.
posted by drezdn at 11:20 AM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think this will have an effect more than the previous eff-ups. I'm seeing more people wanting to actually know why there is a lockout going on. Anecdotal for sure, but I've had three different conversations this morning with people who had no idea why there was a lockout - just something about contracts. When I start talking to them about the union busting aspect people have gotten way more interested.

And I'm also seeing a lot more talk of boycotts on various blogs, forums, and on fb.
posted by Big_B at 12:13 PM on September 25, 2012


And I could do without another opportunity for the national media to trot out the Santa story again.

The eagles could stop a game to resuscitate Jesus Christ himself on the 50 yard line, and the national media will break out the Santa story.
posted by inigo2 at 12:37 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


The players can't easily strike, and not enough fans are going to boycott the games, so somebody should organize a boycott of all the "Official [product] of the NFL" products.

I'll stop drinking Budweiser. Done and done. Somehow I'll make it through.

But seriously, people should start asking those sponsors what they think of being the official [whatever] of such a tainted product. The root of this is love of money but maybe the solution could be too.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:38 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


(Excuse me for seeming like I didn't care about the strike being resolved by suggesting somebody else should organize the boycott -- because not being able to celebrate a Packers loss with a clear conscience is taking away a pretty significant part of my NFL enjoyment.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:41 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's a lockout, not a strike.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:46 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


drezdn, do you have a cite for that?
posted by King Bee at 2:08 PM on September 25, 2012


Cite from Slate:

Rhone-Dunn, the back judge who had the best view of the play and initially signaled interception, is the most experienced member of the crew. Formerly a Big 12 official, he worked the Sugar Bowl back in 2007 and arena games since then. Easley, the side judge who overruled Rhone-Dunn, is a banker from California, who has officiated high school and junior college games, both football and basketball. Elliott, the head referee who should have gotten his crew together and asked them what they saw before signaling for a touchdown, is a real estate agent in Texas who has worked high school, college, and indoor football.
posted by Etrigan at 2:18 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks, Etrigan!
posted by King Bee at 2:29 PM on September 25, 2012


Replacement Google, brought to you by the NFL.
posted by drezdn at 5:09 PM on September 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yes the officiating sucked in the Green Bay - Seattle game.

The Tuesday morning quarterbacking is excessive for a number of reasons. Firstly and mostly Green Bay played pretty shitty for 60 minutes and did not deserve to win that game so I don't agree with the idea that they were cheated out of anything.

Secondly on a no-time-left-hail-mary the percentage defensive play if you can get a hand on the ball is to bat it downward, not try and intercept it. So if only the Packer defender had done his due diligence the Packers still would have won.

Not saying the owners aren't a bunch of assholes because they obviously are; but Packer fans don't really have too much to complain about, or any more to complain about than the partisans of the other 31 teams.
posted by bukvich at 6:57 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


...Packer fans don't really have too much to complain about, or any more to complain about than the partisans of the other 31 teams.

You're reading a different thread than I am. Most of the people who have expressed any preference have laid down caveats such as "there are few teams I hate to see win more than the Pack, but..." and "not being able to celebrate a Packers loss with a clear conscience is taking away a pretty significant part of my NFL enjoyment".

The point that many people are making here is not that the Packers got screwed. The point is that officiating of this caliber is essentially worse than having the players call their own penalties, because at least you could predict what would happen in that case. If that play had been between any other two teams in the league, every response in this discussion would be exactly the same -- it was a shitty call... no, actually, it was several shitty calls that have the cumulative effect of undermining football in its entirety.
posted by Etrigan at 8:02 PM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


bukvich: "Yes the officiating sucked in the Green Bay - Seattle game.

The Tuesday morning quarterbacking is excessive for a number of reasons. Firstly and mostly Green Bay played pretty shitty for 60 minutes and did not deserve to win that game so I don't agree with the idea that they were cheated out of anything.

Secondly on a no-time-left-hail-mary the percentage defensive play if you can get a hand on the ball is to bat it downward, not try and intercept it. So if only the Packer defender had done his due diligence the Packers still would have won.

Not saying the owners aren't a bunch of assholes because they obviously are; but Packer fans don't really have too much to complain about, or any more to complain about than the partisans of the other 31 teams.
"

When was playing well added as a requirement for winning? When is making an interception not valid because the percentage play is to bat it down?

I am a Giants fan, but the Pack got robbed. Plain and simple.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:04 PM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


> When is making an interception not valid because the percentage play is to bat it down?

Well my understanding is the coaches say this because the receiver can wrestle the ball away from you. Now they have video that on top of that you are vulnerable to a bad call, so it's actually a teaching moment for every defensive back in the league going forward and I predict there are 32 defensive back coaches who are going to up the volume on telling their guys from now on that when there's no time and it's a hail mary BAT THE DAMN BALL DOWN.
posted by bukvich at 8:27 PM on September 25, 2012


bukvich: "Well my understanding is the coaches say this because the receiver can wrestle the ball away from you."

I think it's more that going for an interception is more likely to lead to a bounce into the hands of a member of the opposite team, which, with so many bodies standing around the end zone in those situations, happens more often than one might think. Defensive backs are probably defensive backs instead of wide receivers because they couldn't catch in high school or college, so allowing them to just slam the ball into the ground means you win without the adventure of a tipped ball situation where anything can happen.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:13 PM on September 25, 2012


yeah tonycpsu the saying is "there is a reason why they are playing defensive back and not wide receiver" but even Ed Reed should bat down a hail mary. It's not foolproof. You can bat it down and it bounces off a body and up in the air and the offense catches it and you lose. But the playbook says in that situation you bat it down every time and if a guy goes for the interception he is making a mistake. The Green Bay guy who intercepted the hail mary Monday night got his ass chewed out big time and will not be doing that again any time soon.
posted by bukvich at 9:42 PM on September 25, 2012


when there's no time and it's a hail mary BAT THE DAMN BALL DOWN

November 14, 2010. Texans at Jaguars.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 7:06 AM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


There are reports on twitter that an agreement has been reached between the NFL and the NFLRA.
posted by drezdn at 9:17 AM on September 26, 2012


The guy was following the coach's instructions and was told to do the exact same thing next time; but yes it is not 100% foolproof. There is universal agreement this is what to do. No football coach is going to tell you to try and intercept a no time left hail mary. This is not a controversial statement.
posted by bukvich at 9:18 AM on September 26, 2012


I was replying to one more dead town's last parade, not drezdn.
posted by bukvich at 9:20 AM on September 26, 2012


SI is reporting that there are reports.
posted by drezdn at 9:29 AM on September 26, 2012


I just heard on the radio Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter are reporting lockout over & regular refs by sunday.
posted by bukvich at 9:33 AM on September 26, 2012


And now, all the reports are being slowly withdrawn...
posted by WinnipegDragon at 10:30 AM on September 26, 2012


That would be hilarious if the super scooper twitter reporters got poop on their face. I don't even know if I spelled Mortensen and Schefter's names correctly but attributing the story to them was a mark of high reliability on the show I was listening to. I only heard the one sentence and it's been radio silence on the topic since.
posted by bukvich at 10:43 AM on September 26, 2012


That would be hilarious if the super scooper twitter reporters got poop on their face. I don't even know if I spelled Mortensen and Schefter's names correctly but attributing the story to them was a mark of high reliability on the show I was listening to. I only heard the one sentence and it's been radio silence on the topic since.

For what it's worth both Mortensen and Schefter are mainstream sports journalists. Mortensen, however, has something of a track record of getting stuff completely wrong, so I don't really buy this until I get it from someone else.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:53 AM on September 26, 2012


From his report on ESPN, it sounds like Mortensen actually talked to a league source about getting the refs back this week, but these quotes could easily be about hypotheticals not actual progress:
Although league sources said it would take a week to get the locked-out officials on the field, the NFLRA says its 121 referees have been trained on the new rules implemented last season, have already passed physicals or are prepared to pass physicals immediately. New official game uniforms designed by Nike are "hardly an obstacle," according to a source.
And, all the fines are coming out from this past weekend: Belichick gets $50,000 for touching a ref. I am curious to see if the league fines the Green Bay players for their social media posts after their game, especially Clay Matthews for posting Goodell's number.
posted by gladly at 11:09 AM on September 26, 2012


No fines for tweets, anyways.
posted by inigo2 at 11:21 AM on September 26, 2012


There is universal agreement this is what to do.

Excep that there's not, especially after David Garrard threw that pass. And even if there were, that's absolutely no justification for saying that Green Bay deserved to lose because the interception was incorrectly ruled a touchdown.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 12:00 PM on September 26, 2012


everyone keeps saying clay matthews tweeted goodell's number. i looked into that night and it seems the facebook account that came from was a fan account that was labeled as matthews. i think the first person to post it after the game was a wisconsin senator. it's an easily obtained phone number though, and not a private line.
posted by nadawi at 12:14 PM on September 26, 2012


i looked into that night and it seems the facebook account that came from was a fan account that was labeled as matthews.

That's what Sportscenter (or NFL Tonight?) said as well.
posted by inigo2 at 12:32 PM on September 26, 2012


Ahh, sorry about that. I probably misheard that report last night.
posted by gladly at 1:40 PM on September 26, 2012


I really don't blame the refs for being in over their heads. It is the fault of the NFL office for letting things get to this point. Hopefully everything will be worked out soon. Hard to believe Goodell, who up to this point has been a pretty strong commish, has let the ball drop so bad on this one.
posted by huskerfan at 5:28 PM on September 26, 2012


Holy cow.

The Washington Post published:

One person close to the talks said Wednesday afternoon that it is possible the regular officials will work Thursday night’s game in Baltimore between the Cleveland Browns and the Ravens.

This is either great news or pure bullshit.

In either case it is great data for how people do practical public relations and spin. Is the source here a referee rep or an owner rep? The story does not say and that is the most important fact if you ask me. The claim is "one person close to the talks". That ain't informative.
posted by bukvich at 8:43 PM on September 26, 2012


It's official! Hochuli's back and he's bringing his guns!
posted by dirigibleman at 9:39 PM on September 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


*does a touchdown dance*
posted by sallybrown at 4:18 AM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Daily Show Correspondent Strike
posted by homunculus at 12:09 PM on September 27, 2012


Are they ready for some football?
posted by box at 12:30 PM on September 27, 2012


Is the source here a referee rep or an owner rep? The story does not say and that is the most important fact if you ask me. The claim is "one person close to the talks". That ain't informative.

I'm not sure you understand. It may have been illegal for that person to communicate the status of negotiations, and if not, it's probably a fireable offense at the least (unless he/she was instructed to leak it).

Anonymous sources are not worthless. In fact, that's one major role of the reporter--determining whether or not such sources are valid.

In this case, yes, yes it was informative and accurate information.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:36 PM on September 27, 2012


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