NFL Experiencing A Major PR Crisis After Replacement Referees Blow Outcome Of Packers/Seahawks Game

Mike Garafolo of USA Today Sports on the aftermath of another week of blown calls by NFL’s incompetent replacement referees:

What is usually one of the quietest days of a typical NFL week — a scheduled day off for most teams — turned out to be one of the noisiest of any ending in a “Y” in recent league history.

Everywhere — from the radio airwaves of Green Bay, Wis., where Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers shredded the replacement officials’ “embarrassing” ruling on the final play of his team’s loss to the Seattle Seahawks, to the Twitter account of President Obama — it seemed everyone was calling for the NFL to put an end to the lockout of the regular refs Tuesday.

The league office, which was engaged in talks with the officials most of the day, responded only with a statement explaining the controversial final play Monday night. The statement concurred with the replay official’s decision to stick with the call on the field of a touchdown for receiver Golden Tate and not an interception for safety M.D. Jennings.

Of course, the statement failed to note there were actually two calls on the field — one for a touchdown, one for an interception –and didn’t endorse the call of a catch for Tate, who clearly didn’t have what’s termed “simultaneous possession” until after Jennings had the ball pressed against his chest.

There was no fooling Rodgers, who called “bull” on the league’s “garbage” statement.

“I’ve got to do something that the NFL is not going to do: I have to apologize to the fans,” Rodgers said on a Milwaukee radio show. “Our sport is a multibillion-dollar machine, generated by people who pay good money to come watch us play. The product on the field is not being complemented by an appropriate set of officials. The games are getting out of control.”

He continued: “The game is being tarnished by an NFL that obviously cares more about saving some money than having the integrity of the game diminished a little bit.”

The league and the NFL Referees’ Association were looking to restore that integrity Tuesday with face-to-face negotiations, according to someone informed of the progress of talks. The person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because neither side is commenting publicly, said the talks were scheduled at the end of Monday’s phone conversations and were not a response to that night’s events.

Someone else informed of the issues being discussed said the league’s insistence on moving from a fixed-benefit pension plan to a 401(k)-type model remains the biggest sticking point.

The NFL’s desire for a pool of reserve officials to make the regulars more accountable appears to be a minor problem that can be worked out.

Few seem to care about the details and are just looking for one result.

“NFL fans on both sides of the aisle hope the refs’ lockout is settled soon,” Obama tweeted. The message was followed by “-bo,” meaning it came from the actual fingertips of the Tweeter-in-Chief.

While that might be the extent to which the White House steps in, another organization in Washington is hinting at interfering: the NFL Players Association.

The recently ratified collective bargaining agreement stipulates players can’t strike unless there’s a threat to the existence of the union. But in a statement, NFLPA executive DeMaurice Smith said the focus “will remain squarely on workplace safety” and that the union is “actively reviewing any and all possible actions to protect” the players.

NFLPA assistant executive director for external affairs George Atallah echoed the safety concerns to USA TODAY Sports but put the onus on the league and locked-out officials to reach an agreement.

“We didn’t create this mess. So to ask us to fix it is somewhat misplaced,” he said. “We didn’t make the decision to lock the officials out, we didn’t make the decision to use substandard replacements, we didn’t make the decision to put the integrity of the game at risk. To ask the players to do something about it is not really the right solution.”

Many players are angry. New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees tweeted Monday’s “debacle hurts me greatly. This is NOT the league we’re supposed to represent.” New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck told reporters during a charitable appearance “games are just being tossed up like as if you were throwing dice on a craps table.”

Then, there were the picketing fans outside of the Packers’ facility when the team returned from Seattle early Tuesday morning. They missed the league’s offices by about, oh, 800 miles.

It was just a few more supportive voices for Packers coach Mike McCarthy, who said he received more text messages after the loss than he did following a Super Bowl victory. “I could tell the impact was made,” he said.



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Posted on September 26, 2012, in NFL and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on NFL Experiencing A Major PR Crisis After Replacement Referees Blow Outcome Of Packers/Seahawks Game.

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