After watching NFL replacement officials for three weeks, do people finally realize that owners of professional sports teams don’t care about fans? How could anyone who cares lock out the best at what they do and give us an inferior product for three weeks? If not for a glaring bad call on Monday night in the Green Bay Packers-Seattle Seahawks, game we would still have replacement officials.
The notion that pro sports teams belong to the fans and cities they play in is a quaint one, but naive. No sports team in any city belongs to anyone, but the owner. It doesn’t matter if a jersey says Cleveland, Detroit, Washington or Kansas City. The bottom line is they are companies owned by individuals who are in the business of making money.
Former NFL general manager Charley Casserly was asked this morning on NFL Network by a fan on Twitter if the league owed fans an apology for using replacement officials. He said that we do, but isn’t sure if we’ll get one. He’s right.
Commissioner Roger Goodell will send us a letter through email. This is his style and that’s okay. He sent us one when the owners’ lockout of players ended last season. He sent us one during the ‘Bountygate’ case. It is his way of saying that he cares about us and what we think. This is good public relations.
However, we should hear it directly from the owners and their actions should speak louder than words. For three weeks they have given us a game that was not 100 percent legitimate. They should give paying customers a rebate. We all know that’s not happening.
Replacement officials are just one of the things that prove owners don’t care. They make season ticket holders buy tickets for preseason games and charge full price. They make some fans pay personal seat licenses with long term contracts that they have a hard time breaking. They black out home games that don’t sell out, even though their TV money is guaranteed. They halt games for TV timeouts. Some have charged fans to watch scrimmages and training camp practices.
Owners haven’t cared about fans for years. It does not matter how much we support them and their teams, they will always do what is in the best interest for them. If the Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Colts and Oakland Raiders can move, no city is safe. No one supported their teams more than these three cities and each got jilted.
I have no idea what is going to happen if the Rooney family ever loses the Pittsburgh Steelers. They are one of the last original NFL owners who understand what fan and team loyalty is about.
There are a lot of things that sports fans can believe in. One thing that we can not believe in is owners caring about us.
The replacement officials were just the latest example of how they show their disrespect.