According to the Washington Post, the NFL and the regular officials are close to reaching an agreement that would end the regular officials’ lockout. If an agreement is reached, the regular officials could be back on the field as early as this upcoming Sunday, when the majority of the week four schedule will be played.
While the NFL will never admit it, the controversial finish of the week three game between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks was probably the catalyst that got the league and its regular officials back to the negotiation table. During the past three weeks, the replacement officials have tarnished the league’s image. Misinterpretations of rules, as well as blown calls, have caused consternation among players, coaches, and fans.
The lockout was spearheaded by NFL owners refusing to budge on issues like paying the pensions of the locked out referees. I wonder if the league and the owners would have been as eager to negotiate if a team with a low profile owner like the Jacksonville Jaguars were victimized like the Packers were.
What if the Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers, or New York Giants were victimized by poor officiating that cost their respective teams a chance at victory? You better believe that Jerry Jones and the Rooney and Mara families, the respective owners of the aforementioned teams, would raise a fuss. The deal would have probably been reached the day after the game.
The ironic part of the controversy was the ownership group whose team suffered most from the replacement officials’ efforts. The Packers are a community owned team. The other thirty one NFL owners are businesspersons that focus mostly on profit. If they truly cared about the product on the field, the lockout would have ended long ago. While many members of the Packer ownership group focus on profit, there are many more that expect the Packers games to be officiated fairly and competently.
Simply put, many members of the Packers’ ownership group are fans like you and I. They could be your neighbor, your barber, or your child’s nanny. In essence, this particular ownership group became the collective voice of millions of frustrated NFL fans across the United States demanding the return of the regular officials.
Their return means nothing to me, because I would have continued to watch anyway. That said, I’m happy that the league and its regular officials are close to a deal. Whenever that deal is officially reached, we’ll be that much closer to the NFL experience that we all have come to love and expect.