The debacle in Seattle seems to prompt the end of the lock-out

It’s a pretty safe bet to say the big sports story of the last week was the poor call and “replacement” officials in the Green Bay-Seattle NFL game.

The story was everywhere—on the national news, talk shows, newspapers, at the water cooler. Everyone was talking about it. I had a friend who was at the game and he said the whole game was chaos. Seattle fans went crazy in the first half over all the sacks (eight) of Aaron Rogers. Watching the game on television, it seemed like penalties were being made on every play. Some of them would affect the outcome. Some were phantom calls, other probably deserved, and some much more tick-tacky than the teams are used to SELF-PORTRAIT - Sports Editor John Brewington

The whole lock-out of the real officials, the ones not from the Lingerie Football League or Division III college teams or high schools, was unnecessary. The officials hadn’t been asking for much more than maintaining the status quo. The billionaire owners of the teams were trying to cut out their pensions and have the ability to fire them. It was basically a labor dispute. The Division I college refs had declined to participate in the NFL games in solidarity with their officiating brethren.

It certainly could have been settled much earlier without much fanfare if the owners had wanted to settle it. Even after three weeks of play, it took the terrible call on the last game of the third week to get some movement. Boy, did it settle fast then. But according to the NFL, the call had nothing to do with the quick settlement. Yeah, right.

I was watching a show on NBC Wednesday night when an alert blares. I hadn’t heard that before and thought something dire must have happened. The “Breaking News” scroll starts rolling, announcing the end to the lockout. I thought maybe the Norwegians were rioting because of some YouTube film deriding krumkake. No, it announced the regular officials were coming back. Momentous.

The bad call that went viral was upheld by the NFL. Now I like Seattle and thought they probably deserved to win the game. They had Green Bay stopped twice on their final drive, but penalties continued to allow the drive to proceed and finally score the go-ahead goal. Still, the game came down to that final call and like many others the officials got it wrong.

The whole thing was a public relations nightmare for the owners. There was no defense for the lockout.

Fans would still have gone to the game and probably still have paid outrageous prices for food and drink, but the tone would have turned a little more uncivilized.

Imagine what would have happened if the same call had been made in Green Bay. Packers fans are a little more hardcore than the ones in Seattle.

The thought of all the bad publicity continuing any longer had to be what turned the tide. From what can be discerned, the officials didn’t have to give up much. The whole officiating budget is less than what an all-star quarterback makes.

NFL players were right to be concerned. Their union repeatedly asked the owners to bring back the real refs. They supported them, and also had a concern about players safety.

The NFL’s expressed concern for player safety seem to have gone out the window in the first three games. NFL officials not only know the rules, but they are also trained to know when a players needs medical attention. Things the NFL says their trying to stop, like helmet-to-helmet contact were often missed in these early games.

Not only was the officiating bad, there also was chaos. One thing officials are trained to do is keep a game under control. They clearly were not in control of very many games. When games get out of control, nothing good happens. One coach was fined $50,000 for grabbing the arm of an official. That lack of control in the wrong venue can lead to out of control fans. I’ve seen it happen in high school games. Ask longtime Scappoose fans about the infamous trip to Neah-Kah-Nie many years ago. Players really shouldn’t be fighting with fans.

NFL players have very little control over the careers as it is. The NFL promotes certain players over others. Injuries can happen in the blink of an eye, and careers can end. The average career is just 3.5 years, but that includes people signed but cut. Those who make the opening day roster of a team last about six years. First round draft picks last about nine years.

That’s not a long career for anyone. A player might be concerned that a lack of control could end his career. That could cost millions.

It seems the ruckus has died down for now, and we hope it’s a lesson learned. Unless you like out-of-control chaos (that’s redundant, I know), the games were not that much fun to watch.

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