Former NFL quarterback, and current ESPN broadcaster Steve Young usually doesn’t grab my attention when he speaks, what with all the stumbling over words and shoddy commentary. But last night, the Hall of Fame quarterback perked up the ears of a lot of people who usually pay him no mind.
On Monday, the Atlanta Falcons and Denver Broncos played a 3 hour 27 minute game that was constantly interrupted and marred by the inefficiency and mistakes of the NFL replacement referees. Several times during the course of the game, it actually appeared the officials were losing control of the game, and were being bullied by both players and coaches.
In the post-game show, the ESPN crew took issue with the league and the performance of the officials, none more vocally than Steve Young:
“How do I start here? I can say this because the league officials have gone to sleep. Lemme just go right at this: There’s a lot of people in the league who would rather break the union. There’s a lot of people who don’t feel like the officiating is on-field personnel, they feel like it’s a commodity. But more importantly, everything about the NFL now, it’s inelastic for demand. There’s nothing that they can do to hurt the demand for the game. So the bottom line is, they don’t care. Player safety? Doesn’t matter in this case. Bring the Division 3 officials? Doesn’t matter. Because in the end, you’re still gonna watch the game, we’re gonna all complain and moan, and gripe and say there’s all these problems, and all the coaches will say it, the players will say it… Doesn’t matter. So just go ahead, gripe all you want, I’m gonna rest. Let them eat cake.”
Wow, that’s pretty pointed commentary from a guy who basically owes his entire existence to the NFL.
Young went on even further when questioned by co-host Stuart Scott about why it was he felt this way:
“Because it’s inelastic. There’s nothing that changes the demand for the NFL. So they want to break the union, they want to send a message to them, they don’t care about player safety in the case of bringing in Division 3 officials, because it doesn’t affect the desire for the game. If it affected the desire for the game, they’d come up with a few million dollars.”
For the first time I can remember, I actually agree with and applaud Steve Young. As inflammatory as that commentary might sound, it’s the absolute and undeniable truth.
For weeks we’ve been listening to the puppets of the league – and the broadcasters who refuse to show a little backbone – defend the league and their stance in this lockout. Even worse, they defend the job that the replacement officials are doing. No, it’s not the fault of these completely unprepared and unqualified officials, but to go as far as to say they are doing a good job and even give them a grade as high as a B is an instantaneous sign that commissioner Roger Goodell has intimidated more than just the players in this league.
The bottom line is, Steve Young is right. When it comes down to making some extra money without losing any of your audience, and possibly even gathering some new viewers from all the hoopla, then the NFL probably doesn’t care about much of anything other than raising that all-important bottom line.
Hats off to you Steve, and thanks for saying what most broadcasters are thinking, but are afraid to say.