On Friday, the NFL re-entered into negotiations with the labor union representing NFL officials in efforts to come to an agreement before the start of the NFL season on Wednesday, August 5′th. The NFL had previously maintained that they would not re-negotiate with the union, however, numerous errors on the part of replacement officials have forced them to reconsider their approach.
This really should come as no surprise: The NFL took a hardball approach to negotiations with players, and everybody remembers how nasty those got. Interestingly, it may be the matter of public opinion that helps the NFL to acquiesce to the unions’ demands, as it was with the player negotiations.
Previous to this off-season, the NFL, the players, and most especially the public, saw the referee position as expendable. Their most important function seemed to be providing everyone with a target for misdirected ire. There was no way the job was so hard that it couldn’t be competently done by others in the lower ranks of football, namely the NCAA. Then this happened.
There have been a number of situations wherein replacement referees have simply made bad calls. The recent incident between the Giants and Cowboys lasted over five and a half minutes, and that was on a relatively meaningless punt. The fact is that the NFL’s hard-line approach has backfired (arguably, yet again). The only thing accomplished by the referee lockout was proving to the world that, if anything, the union officials deserve even more of raise than whatever the NFL was initially offering.
Replacement officials, though putting forth admirable efforts, are bad for the game. They slow down the game even further then is already done with the overemphasis on replay. Look for things to be settled by next weekend when most of the games are scheduled to play, if not by Wednesday.
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