Vikings punter, Chris Kluwe, wrote an excellent piece in Deadspin today regarding last night’s royal screw-up by the replacement refs in the NFL.
Let’s be clear: We’re past the preseason now. These games really matter, and the Packers just lost one that counts for real, one that by all rights they should have won. As a divisional rival, it pains me to say this, but the Packers got royally horsebuggered on that last play, and this could have serious implications down the road when it comes to playoff seeds and homefield advantage.
Kluwe has been vocal on Twitter and Deadspin regarding the incompetence of the scab refs since the preseason, but rightly points out that the stakes are higher when games are so clearly won or lost based on bad calls by the picket line crossing scabs.
The NFL really needs to kiss and make up with the refs. These replacements are horrible. Frankly, it’s kind of embarrassing.
— Chris Kluwe (@ChrisWarcraft) August 25, 2012
Nothing good can follow the introduction, “the replacement ref, an 8th grade geography teacher from Iowa, will make the call” #comebackrefs
— Chris Kluwe (@ChrisWarcraft) September 6, 2012
However, it’s comical to read Kluwe’s reasoning for why the scab refs are a problem for the league:
One of the main points Commissioner Goodell has always harped on is protecting the shield: not letting anything tarnish the brand of the NFL. Commissioner, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but right now the shield is tarnishing faster than a sailor’s virtue in a two-dollar whorehouse.
This is the same league that has extracted billions in corporate welfare from cities and states around the country in order to add billions to their bottom line.
This is the same league that blacks out games from TV broadcast if fans don’t find them entertaining enough to pay for tickets, thus screwing over poor, elderly, and disabled fans.
This is the same league that demands hundreds of millions in public subsidies, then jacks up ticket prices and sells PSLs in the stadium the public paid for.
This is the same league that demands larger and larger footprints for stadiums and parking while refusing to pay property taxes, thus shifting the tax burden to pay for local police, firefighters, and schools to residents and locally owned businesses.
The culture of the NFL is not to play by the rules: this isn’t a sport built around the honor system. The game is actively policed by officials. Because of that, success in NFL football seems to have more to do with what you can away with within a framework than playing by the rules. The league teaches us that it’s not cheating if you don’t get caught. Kluwe gives an example of this on Deadspin:
We walked out for a punt, and my long snapper didn’t feel like going over to the other hash. What did he do? He told the ref, “No, you have the ball in the wrong place. Move it over here.” And what did the ref do? HE MOVED THE BALL. No! Bad ref! Have some confidence in your abilities—you tell us what to do, not the other way around.
Note that Kluwe didn’t have his long snapper move the ball back to where it belonged. Instead, Kluwe conspired to break the rules then made fun of the ref on Deadspin. That’s today’s NFL in a nutshell.
Unlike Kluwe, at least NFL owners have the decency to not publicly fun of the public when they screwed them over for stadium subsidies.
With players and coaches, we see boundaries pushed based on what refs can see (and they see far less with less experience as we’ve all seen watching this season’s games). Off the field, the NFL chooses to not play by the rules by happily running successful profitable private businesses. Instead, they offload billions of dollars in capital and operating costs while privatizing their profits by out negotiating our elected officials (who are replacement ref equivalents when it comes to negotiating with the NFL).
This is the same Chris Kluwe who stood in solidarity with an NFL owner during his effort to extract around a billion dollars from the State of Minnesota and City of Minneapolis to subsidize his franchise:
This is also the same Chris Kluwe that’s taken the field with scab refs every week this season. If players like Kluwe are concerned about the game, show some respect for it by refusing to play until we can count on legitimate results.
And, while tarnishing the NFL’s image through poor officiating may be of some concern to someone employed within the league, it’s not the worst outcome we could see from scabs. The worst thing that could happen isn’t what happened last night. The worst thing would be scab refs losing control of a game, leading to a player receiving a career ending injury.