For the last several years, the league has gone cray cray over its ‘player safety’ mantra. New equipment, training programs, stricter on-field doctors with ‘concussion-like’ tests, and donations for head trama research – all under the facade and guise that the #1 priority in the NFL is player safety. None of it ‘works’ and is really meant to keep critics that much more silenced when arguing that the NFL isn’t fully taking on player safety. Goodell and the owners practically spit and crapped all over that by allowing the replacement refs to last more than a week. The replacements had no control over the games. It was clear from day one, and players and coaches did everything they could to take advantage of situation. Things became quite chippy out on the field – late hits, pushing, smacking, illegal blocks, and illegal hits. While the refs were too busy figuring out if the penalty on the field should be assessed at the end of the play or replay the down, players became out of control. The games during Week 2 were clearly becoming unmanageable after the whistle. Players started to get hurt. It was worse in Week 3. The NFL had to see all of this, yet kept a blind eye to it all. Players are a commodity (i.e. 2011 lockout) and so who cares if they are hurt for weeks, the rest of the season, or their career ended. Through it all the NFL still made money.
Safety and longevity of a human being aside, the most egregious offense is the squabbling over pennies in the bucket for the NFL and the owners. And this is where the consumer, we the fans, need to see the huge ‘Buyer Beware’ sign that is now draped over the NFL shield. For years the NFL and its owners have acted like they are a non-profit organization. Everything they do to promote the league – expansions, rennovations, etc. – needs the financial help of others. A multi-billion dollar profit company seeks out dollars, millions of them, in order to keep the league afloat. Any time a stadium needs built, we the tax payer – whether we are a fan of the game or not – are asked to foot a major portion of the bill as if we should be grateful to be handing over out money to a team owner who already makes millions in profit from other business ventures. The tax breaks, the incentives, and state funds given to these people is enough to make anyone sick.
So even while the NFL gets all the breaks and handouts it can possibly muster, they still asked the men who are responsible for the integrity of this wonderful game to take a pay cut. It shrouds a very dark cloud over the NFL as a business and a form of gamesmanship. The NFL was practically tripping over all of its piles of money to run away from the ‘real refs’ and find replacements just to save a few bucks. We the consumer, we the fans should not forget the unfolding of events between June 2012-September 26th. Remember these past few months the next time an NFL owner comes kneeling on a gold and diamond encrusted pillow asking for more money in order to build a new billion dollar stadium.