|Over the years, NFL Films has spliced together hilarious highlights of coaches and players expressing their extreme disagreement with the officials’ calls.
The arguments might not be quite so hilarious this season, as the players segue from working out the preseason kinks to playing games that actually count in the standings.
Due to a standoff between the National Football League and the officials’ union, the nation’s most popular sport will be regulated by replacement zebras for the foreseeable future.
If the preseason is any indication, it will take a long time for the replacement zebras to earn their stripes.
In a game between the Chicago Bears and New York Giants, the officials gave the latter an additional play at the end of one quarter — a play to which they were not entitled.
In yet another game, a replacement blew a kick dead in the end zone when the football had landed at the 5-yard line.
And in still another game, a kick returner was flagged for holding.
It’s rather difficult to run with the ball in one hand and commit holding with the other.
One of this year’s replacements is a refugee from the Lingerie Football League, the soft-porn joke in which women run around in their nighties.
One official never has officiated above the NCAA Division III level, and another’s biggest claim to fame is working a game between Wagner College and Central Connecticut State University.
The regular officials are at odds with the league over the number of games they have to work each season, as well as salaries and retirement benefits. Does this sound familiar?
Basically, the real officials get paid a lot of money for a part-time job. The league wants full-time officials, but the regulars don’t want to give up their off-season careers.
If I hadn’t been an NFL fan for so long, I would think that the National Football League Players Association, which has staged its own season-cramping labor beefs in the past, would learn some lessons now that the cleats are on the other foot.
However, acknowledging personal or organizational hypocrisy never has been a prominent feature of professional sports.
There has been plenty of grousing.
Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe said the league and the regular zebras should “kiss and make up.”
Chicago Bears kicker Robbie Gould called the crew who worked one of his team’s games “clueless.”
A $9 billion dollar industry has not come to terms with a labor dispute that would cost only $115,000 from each of the NFL’s 32 franchises.
This league claimed so self-righteously to hold the moral high ground in dealing with the Bountygate scandal, which originated in New Orleans, and continues to pompously tout its “Heads Up” concussion awareness campaign, even as mentally impaired former players wave a legal Sword of Damocles over Commissioner Roger Goodell’s head.
Goodell’s official Bountygate statement mentioned a concern for “the integrity of the game.” He said, “Respect for the game and the people who participate in it will not be compromised.”
Upon further review, it’s time for the fans to throw a few red flags in Goodell’s direction and challenge his so-called leadership.