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What Has Happened To The Game That I Used To Know?

What has happened to the NFL? Why do I suddenly despise the game that I once adored?

Growing up I was never much of a football fan.  Mostly because I grew up in California and football started at 9am on Sunday.  My family and I were usually at church then so football was something we watched a few times a year.  That all changed when I moved to New Hampshire and started college.

During my college years I took a job waiting tables at a local restaurant bar and grill. Due to my school schedule, I mostly worked weekends, Friday night, a double on Saturday, and a double on Sunday.  While working there, I really became a fan of football.  I jumped right on the New England Patriots bandwagon as we headed to the Super Bowl, only to be crushed by the Green Bay Packers.  From there my love of the game continued to grow.

After college I took my first job in Indianapolis, ‘COLTS COUNTRY’.  At this time the Colts had just acquired a new quarterback, some kid named Peyton Manning.  I found myself struggling to see the games I wanted to see and missed seeing my beloved Patriots play.  My best friend had just ordered NFL Sunday Ticket and so I became a couch potato on Sundays watching the Vikings (his favorite) and the Patriots.

Are you ready for some football?

My favorite part about sitting there with my friend (aside from all the beers and wings) was listening to him call penalties.  He knew the game so well, from his years of play, that he could pick out a foul at full speed from the high camera angle.  I won’t go into all the grief I took being a Patriots fan in Colts Country, that’s a whole different story.  The fact is that for nearly 10 years I never missed a game.  I would watch two to three full games a week.  I would go to my local watering hole with good friends and we would all watch games together and cheer for the game, not just our favorite teams.

Being a foreigner in foreign land I grew to love more than just my favorite team — I truly loved the game.  However this year things are very different.  I am ashamed of the NFL and I am disgusted to watch.  While I will never claim to be a rules expert, I know when someone is holding, or when a play should be reviewed.  Most of all I know when a kick is good or when it is wide.  This is apparently something they did not teach these “Replacement Refs”.

They say that money is the root of all evil, and this year that evil has once again snuck into my favorite game.  The NFL Owners have locked out the members of NFL Referees Association and brought in replacement referees (scabs).  These scabs have completely ruined the game.

This week I watched two full games and I was blown away by the number of penalties that were not called and penalties that were called wrong.  Each game had a “Replacement Ref moment” that completely changed the outcome of the game.

In the Patriots game, the final play was a field goal that appeared to be wide.  However, they never reviewed it. This got Coach Belichick in hot water because he grabbed the scab and reminded him they have to review the play.  The play was never reviewed and the scab referees ran off the field, very quickly.

Then in the Packers game on Monday Night Football, the entire battle came down to a “Hail Mary” pass.  The key was one official signaled touchdown, while the other said no. To me, the Packers were robbed of the interception and robbed of the game.

Just like the old commercial, You Make The Call?

Even non-union politicians are saying ‘bring back the union refs’.  Scott Walker who famously repealed collective bargaining for public service employees in Wisconsin tweeted:

So now these two monumental mistakes by the scab replacements could be the difference between a rematch of the Packers and Patriots in the Super Bowl — or the two teams not even making playoffs.

This has poisoned the game for me. We have lost the integrity of the game and to me this season may already be over. This lockout must be ended before millions more football fans decide that they too have lost their love of the game.

The NFL Owners need to get off their high horse and settle with the NFL Referees Association.  What is worth more, a few percentage points of your profits – more dollars in the Owners’ bank accounts – or to ensure the sanctity of the greatest game on earth?

Sign the AFL-CIO petition to NFL owners and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to demand they end the referee lockout.

I will not watch another game until the NFL Referee’s Association returns to work because to me there is no point.

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About Matt Murray

Matt Murray is the creator and an author on the NH Labor News. He is a union member and advocate for labor and progressive politics. He also works with other unions and members to help spread our message. Follow him on Twitter @NHLabor_News
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