Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The 5 Entities That Could End The NFL Ref Lockout

Are You Feeling Used?
So it's clear by now that the NFL isn't going to fix this referee lockout issue -- unless forced. And guess what, folks? There are groups that could do it. Let's take them in order.

5) The broadcast networks. You started to see this turn in the ESPN MNF game, when Mike Tirico and Steve Young spoke truth to power over the travesty that was the work in the Broncos-Falcons game. If even the people who pay the NFL to televise this stuff, who have a vested commercial interest in hyping the league beyond all endurance, start to relentlessly bad mouth the league... well, maybe that exerts a certain amount of pressure. Probably not enough, but to assume that the people who operate the cameras have no power is a bad assumption.

4) The local and federal governments. Congress lives for grandstanding moments like this, and as soon as a town with a sports-mad Congresscritter suffers the unambiguous wrath of scab refs costing their team a win, predictable saber-rattling about anti-trust exemptions and public land use will be brought to the fore. And if you think that Congress has no power over the NFL, well, just imagine how much fun the league's officials will have in front of an inquiry about concussions.

As for the locals, many stadiums are public financed, and subject to the same kind of easy fun-time harassment that any bar knows as Licenses and Inspection. Or proper fire code violations. Or a check of the kitchens, sewer pipes, and so on, and so on. Oh, and if you'd like to reach out to your local municipal Teamsters with those jolly giant scabby rats, that's also a nice and fun visual...

3) The owners. Despite all recent expectations to the contrary, Roger Goodell actually works for the owners... and if they decide this has gone on too long, they might, you know, actually grow a pair and tell him to end it. At some point, you have to think that the younger and more PR-savvy among them will say enough is enough. Particularly if their fan base starts to turn up the heat locally. Which brings us to...

2) The fans. Can you imagine what would happen if a stadium of people just up and left in disgust over a boneheaded call? Or, perhaps more realistically, just stood and turned their backs on the mess?

The fact that people forget about the NFL is that it does *not* require your attention, or your money, and if you take either of these away, even for a brief period of time, it will be noticed. So the next time you are in the stadium, steer clear of the merch shop. Tweet to the team your disgust with the refs, and how you'll be spending less because of it. Turn off the game during the interminable delays. And so on, and so on. (And no, I won't be joining you in this. My addiction is far, far, far too deep.)

1) The players. Guys, you have a union. You could take some small and lovely steps to turn the game into something very, very peculiar and exert your power. Imagine, for just a second, if both the kickoff and return teams just sat down on the kick, making no effort to pick up the ball or cover the kick. Consider the impact if, after a particularly awful call, the other side just allowed the offense or defense to walk the ball up to a yard line and kneel, without opposition. Imagine a hilarious game of keep-away in a blowout where the offense and the defense conspire to not give the game ball back to the refs. De-pants one of these guys during their peep show review. Use your imaginations.

And enjoy, enjoy, enjoy the resulting shock and awe from the networks and league.

(Oh, and if you then act on this new found solidarity to push for other changes, like, say, the fact that Roger Goodell is able to unilaterally ruin your livelihood? Go for it. I'm begging you...)

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