Bill Plaschke: Now throw a white flag and bring back the NFL officials
Want to know my favorite statistic of Week 3 before Monday? Sixteen of 20 coach’s challenges resulted in overturned calls, meaning officials made the wrong decision on 80 percent of some of the biggest plays. Think about that.
Want to know my second-favorite statistic? When you crunch the numbers, if the NFL gave the locked-out referees everything they wanted, it would cost about $100,000 extra per team per season. That equals about four games’ pay for one of a team’s lowest-paid players. The owners are watching their sport burn because they won’t improve the officials’ compensation by about one-fourth the amount they would pay a backup guard? Think about that.
OK, real quick, I’ve got a third-favorite statistic from last weekend. There were 13 penalty first downs in the game between the Patriots and the Ravens, which is only the most in the history of the NFL.
The only numbers that seem to concern Goodell, of course, are the television ratings, which are as booming as ever. As long as the players and fans won’t walk over this — and neither group is budging — then Goodell apparently feels that the officiating problems are irrelevant. Heck, he probably thinks the poor officiating is good for league buzz.
But I’ve got some Internet photos in front of me that should remind him of a different, much more frightening possibility.
In one of the photos, Shannon Eastin, a replacement who is the league’s first female official, is sitting behind a pile of chips while competing in the 2007 World Series of Poker. Lovely. Somebody making decisions that affect the outcome of NFL games is a gambler.
In another photo, replacement Brian Stroplo is wearing New Orleans Saints gear. The NFL pulled him from the rotation after seeing these photos, but the guy had already officiated one game, and how would you like to be a Saints opponent penalized by a guy shouting “Who Dat?”
Because there obviously wasn’t much vetting of the replacements, this means there could be other officials susceptible to outside influences, and you know where I’m going here. If replacement officials remain, how long before a coach seriously charges that a game has been fixed? Already, the betting lines in Las Vegas have changed to reflect a belief that replacements are being swayed by home crowds, and when has an NFL point spread been altered because of concerns about potentially tainted officials? Answer: Never.
If Goodell still didn’t hear Monday night’s message, then he needs to listen to his own office, in that scolding memo it sent to the league.
“Everybody has a responsibility to respect the game.”
This includes the guy running it.
Distributed by MCT Information Services
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