My friends, we gather today to mourn the passing of a close friend.
It was a friend that many almost considered a big brother. It was a close friend of millions of people in multiple countries around the world. While it was a product of the United States, it transcended nationality. It truly was a universal language.
Of course, it had its flaws. Nothing and no one on this earth is perfect. We accepted those flaws and figured that those in charge of its caretaking would always keep its best interests at heart when trying to fix those flaws as well as any other urgent need that would arise.
Sadly, around four weeks ago, many of us saw trouble ahead for our dear National Football League. The regular officials were locked out by the league under the leadership of Commissioner Roger Goodell. We were told a deal would be coming and that the replacement officials would not be used more than a couple of weeks.
So the games went on and we as fans continued to watch. As the young season progressed, warning signs began to emerge. Players were taking blows to the head and defenders were not being flagged for it, despite the NFL allegedly cracking down on such hits. Holding and blatant pass interference ignored, giving quarterbacks a kicking ball, forgetting which teams are playing (“Holding, number 93 red”), awarding extra yardage and timeouts….the list goes on.
Finally, this past Monday night the fatal blow came and personally it hurt more than any of the other botched calls because it cost my beloved Green Bay Packers a game. M.D. Jennings clearly had the ball on the final Hail Mary and Golden Tate only had one arm on it after throwing Sam Shields to the ground in yet another blatant pass interference non-call.
Chaos ensued as one official signaled for a touchdown and the other signaled a touchback. The subsequent review somehow confirmed the ruling. The official in the booth was a full time NFL employee and he got it wrong, probably to save his league more embarrassment. It’s a shame.
Commissioner Goodell has always said he puts the integrity of the NFL above all else. He said it last year when the players were locked out and he repeated the same thing this year with the referee lockout. You know what defines someone as insane? Repeating a lie or fantasy so much that the person becomes convinced that it is real.