Skip to main content

Game action in Pittsburgh during a Pittsburgh Steelers (black/yellow) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (white/red) National Football League game on December 3, 2006. Players depicted include: (Steelers #99) Brett Keisel; (Steelers #51) James Farrior; (Steelers #2
The NFL Players Association is calling on the league to end its referees lockout, and accompanied that call with a withering denunciation of the lockout. The letter, coming from the NFLPA's 12-member executive committee, details safety concerns that could lay the groundwork for the players to ultimately refuse to play while the lockout is ongoing—their collective bargaining agreement does not allow them to strike but does allow them to refuse to play if doing so would compromise their safety.
Your decision to lock out officials with more than 1,500 years of collective NFL experience has led to a deterioration of order, safety and integrity.  This affirmative decision has not only resulted in poor calls, missed calls and bad game management, but the combination of those deficiencies will only continue to jeopardize player health and safety and the integrity of the game that has taken decades to build. [...]

It is lost on us as to how you allow a Commissioner to cavalierly issue suspensions and fines in the name of player health and safety yet permit the wholesale removal of the officials that you trained and entrusted to maintain that very health and safety. It has been reported that the two sides are apart by approximately $60,000 per team. We note that your Commissioner has fined an individual player as much in the name of “safety.”  Your actions are looking more and more like simple greed.

As the NFLPA letter notes, the past week has brought "embarrassing" headlines thanks to the scab officials, from a scab who told Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy that he needed him on his fantasy team (NFL refs aren't allowed to play fantasy football) to a scab removed from officiating a New Orleans Saints game after he posted pictures of himself in Saints gear on Facebook.

While the teams and coaches have been told not to criticize the lockout or the officiating it produces, serious frustration has come through at times. Additionally, former officials and players have been blunt in their criticism. For instance, the father of Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III has said he believes poor officiating allowed an opposing player to kneel on and bruise RGIII's leg after a play had ended, and:

... former NFL official Jerry Markbreit told USA TODAY Sports Friday that he saw a skirmish in Thursday night's New York Giants at Carolina Panthers game that replacement officials allowed to continue when veteran officials would have stepped in and seized immediate control.
Last week, Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young was blunt in his assessment that:
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 because in the end, you're still going to watch the game. We're all going to complain and moan and gripe, and say it's—all these problems. All the coaches will say it; the players will say it. Doesn't matter—let them eat cake.
NFL management and the NFL Referees Association did negotiate briefly last week, only to once again break off over the league's insistence that the officials give up their defined benefit pensions.

Sign our petition calling on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the league's billionaire owners to stop locking out experienced referees out of what the NFLPA is calling "simple greed."

(Full text of NFLPA letter below the fold.)

TO:   Owners of NFL Teams  
FROM:  NFLPA Executive Committee
DATE:  September 20, 2012
RE:  Your Lockout of the NFL Referees and the Negative Impact on Football

The NFL Players Association Executive Committee is calling on you to end the lockout of our referees.  We believe there is substantial evidence that you have failed in your obligation to provide as safe a working environment as possible.

Your decision to lock out officials with more than 1,500 years of collective NFL experience has led to a deterioration of order, safety and integrity.  This affirmative decision has not only resulted in poor calls, missed calls and bad game management, but the combination of those deficiencies will only continue to jeopardize player health and safety and the integrity of the game that has taken decades to build.

As we predicted and explained to you weeks ago, the removal of the veteran officials from regular season games left a group of your replacements who have proved to be incapable of keeping pace with the speed of the game. Coaches and players have complained of numerous errors and failures including: erratic and missed calls on egregious holds and hits, increased skirmishes between players and confusion about game rules. Many replacements have lost control of games due to inexperience and unfamiliarity with players and rules.

The headlines are embarrassing: a scab working a game despite having been on the payroll of one of the teams, another who was assigned to referee a team he publicly supported on Facebook, and one who is a professional poker player when you propose even more stringent player rules on gambling.

It is lost on us as to how you allow a Commissioner to cavalierly issue suspensions and fines in the name of player health and safety yet permit the wholesale removal of the officials that you trained and entrusted to maintain that very health and safety. It has been reported that the two sides are apart by approximately $60,000 per team. We note that your Commissioner has fined an individual player as much in the name of “safety.”  Your actions are looking more and more like simple greed. As players, we see this game as more than the “product” you reference at times. You cannot simply switch to a group of cheaper officials and fulfill your legal, moral, and duty obligations to us and our fans. You need to end the lockout and bring back the officials immediately.

We are all men who love and respect this game and believe that it represents something beyond just money. For our teammates, our coaches and our fans who deserve better, vote to end this lockout now.        
                                                            Sincerely,

Domonique Foxworth, NFLPA President                                    
Charlie Batch, NFLPA Vice President, Pittsburgh Steelers                        
Cornelius Bennett, NFLPA Former Players Board of Directors Chairman
Drew Brees, NFLPA Vice President, New Orleans Saints                          
Brian Dawkins, NFLPA Vice President                                        
Scott Fujita, NFLPA Vice President, Cleveland Browns                                        
Matt Hasselbeck, NFLPA Vice President, Tennessee Titans
Brandon Moore, NFLPA Vice President, New York Jets
Jeff Saturday, NFLPA Vice President, Green Bay Packers
Mickey Washington, NFLPA Former Players Board of Directors Member
Brian Waters, NFLPA Vice President, New England Patriots
Benjamin Watson, NFLPA Vice President, Cleveland Browns

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 09:42 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site