NEWS BLOG (WSAU) Actually, I don’t view the NFL replacement referee debacle as a simple matter of the Packers getting rooked out of a win. I see it as a matter of player safety. An NFL quarterback gets pummeled several times each game by large defensive linemen. The only protection they have against complete savagery is the referee.
A football referee has a slightly different job than a baseball umpire or basketball official. Because of the nature of the game, football refs play a much greater role in safeguarding player safety.
Keeping those thoughts in mind, here are three ways the NFL referee lockout could end, sooner rather than later:
- Aaron Rogers is the league’s MVP and the NFL’s most popular player. Drew Brees is the NFL’s all-time passing leader. They play against each other this Sunday. Imagine, as a matter of personal safety, they both refuse to play. Sitting out in protest would draw a fine and a suspension. It would also the league to a settlement in quick order. Besides, other players would also refuse to play in solidarity. The NFL’s lockout would become untenable.
- Since a football referee has a safety role, states might get involved. New Jersey’s state legislature is likely to see a bill that would ban replacement referees, on the same grounds that boxing refs who are incompetent aren’t allowed in the ring. If replacement refs aren’t allowed to work in certain states or cities, the lockout will be settled. (And the clock may already be ticking on this. Canada has different work rules than the U.S, and under Canadian law the replacement refs might not qualify for work permits for the Bills-Seahawks game in Toronto. It was these same work rules that ended the baseball umpires strike.)
- Lastly, what if the fans become more involved? Imagine if in NFL stadiums next weekend the fans begin chanting “We want the real refs! We want the real refs!” each time a flag is thrown. Every time the replacement referee opens their microphone to explain a penalty, let the chant be heard through TV sets around the land. Hearing fans raise their voices would also play an important part in ending this fiasco.
I’m not optimistic. The NFL’s written statement stands behind a call that everyone saw as wrong. Who would have dreamed that players and fans would care more about the integrity of the game than the league and its owners?