The NFL and the negotiations between the officials is a pathetic. There is no negotiation.
What the NFL is doing is very simple. They are flexing their muscles, proving to everyone that they hold the upper hand in all negotiations and business deals. It does not matter with whom; officials, TV sponsors, stadium vendors, or stadium leasers (hello St. Louis). The NFL can do whatever they want. Why? Steve Young put it best on the Monday Night Football post game show when explaining what is going on in the negotiations between the NFL and the officials. He stated, “The demand for the game is inelastic.”
What he means is there is almost nothing that can affect the demand for the NFL among the people that watch the games and buy the tickets. Regardless of who’s officiating.
Last year’s player lockout is about the only thing that has and will ever come close to the NFL backing down. The NFL stood to lose millions in revenue if they locked the players out for a whole season. Every NFL owner is a billionaire, and in their business they are guaranteed to make money whether their team goes 0-16 and nobody buys a single ticket or if they go 19-0 and win the Super Bowl. The T.V. revenue provides the NFL owners with a guaranteed profit. The only reason why the lockout was lifted on the players before the start of last season is because the NFL’s bottom line would have been affected. No games=no T.V. revenue.
The other facade the NFL throws at us is “player safety.” The new kickoff rule took into effect last year because the NFL wanted to give the world the perception that they gave a shit about concussions. Concussions do not occur more often on kickoffs than, say, a receiver going over the middle, or linebackers and linemen clashing helmets in the trenches. The NFL would love to give the perception that they care about the players or the integrity of the game, but they don’t.
Now we have refs botching helmet to helmet contact and late hits on quarterbacks. I’m not going through every play these refs have missed, it’s been talked about to death, and it’s sad. Nobody can be sure that if the professional refs were calling these games those injuries could be prevented, but the men currently calling the games aren’t helping. But, none of this affects the bottom line on the owner’s balance sheet, so none of this matters to the league. They just want to give the perception they care about the players by changing kickoff rules and releasing studies about concussions.
This is not about increased salaries or larger pensions for officials. This is about the NFL proving that they can run one of the most successful businesses in the world with or without the help of whomever they decide.
I’m not even sure these amateur officiating crews deciding games will get the NFL to realize they need the professional officials back on the field. It simply doesn’t affect the owner’s bottom line. Until people stop showing up to games or turning their T.V.’s off on Sunday, nothing will change. Forget the integrity of the game. There is none. Whether the officials come back in Week 6 or next season, it doesn’t matter; we will still attend our Holy Grail stadiums and worship in front of our T.V.’s on Sundays. At least I will be. And the NFL knows exactly that.