The Joy of Real Referees For the NFL Trash Talk

The real refs are back, and the scabs are gone. This is a very good thing for the integrity of the sport; the cockup that cost the Packers the game in Seattle was just too much. After that, how in the world could the NFL send a team of scabs into Lambeau this Sunday for the game with the Saints? They couldn’t. And now we have a deal.

One thing should be kept in mind. While the deal looks like the referees and their union won big, it is not quite as solid of a win if you look at the details. As Travis Waldron notes:

When the lockout began, the owners had three major asks: they wanted to eliminate the pension benefits current officials receive, add full-time officials, and add a back-up pool of officials. More details will come out, but the deal they reached last night added a group of full-time officials and a back-up pool of officials and grandfathered in pension changes that will eliminate the current defined-benefit retirement program for all officials by 2016. The owners got basically everything they wanted, and somehow they lost?

I’m not seeing it.

If anything, this deal is more evidence of the power corporate interests hold in labor disputes. Laden with cash and able to wait, the NFL spent the offseason moving the NFLRA’s thin red line closer to what the owners wanted, to the point where the reasonable compromise was one that gave the league everything it wanted, if on a slightly slower timeline. That ensured that when fans firmly took a side, the league would still get its way. That power is shared by corporations in lower-profile battles, where companies are locking out workers to pay them less and eliminate pensions and benefits just because they can.

I think Travis is exactly right. Not that an NFL official’s life is a terrible lot, they are paid well for 6-8 months of work a year, and get other benefits. But if the point was to score a “win for labor”, this really is maybe not the gleaming example it has been painted as.

But, as a football fan, I will take it; anything is better than the degraded product we saw culminated last Monday night. And, who would have ever guessed it could be possible for referees to get a standing ovation of love from a packed house of football fans? I do wonder, though, how long the newfound love and respect for the refs by the players and fans will last. We shall see.

Hey, here is a great story about Brian Dawkins the former Eagles and Broncos great who is being honored with a jersey retirement in Philly for the Giants game Sunday night. Do the Eagles have enough motivation to take it to the Gents? I think they do this time. For Dawk.

Other games that look good are Oakland at Mile High to visit the Broncos. Houston was too tall an order, but I think Peyton gets untracked on the Rayduhs and their secondary. The Niners are going to roll the Jets. Detroit is reeling, and the Vikings looked shockingly competent whipping San Francisco last week; these two are so unpredictable, it is a tossup. Can the Cardinals make it 4-0 with a win in Phoenix over Miami? I think so; who’d a thunk it? The Bears play Dallas on MNF, hard to see why anybody cares about these two at this point.

For the “student athletes”, there was a huge upset Thursday night when the Washington Huskies chopped down the Stanford Tree. There is not much else in the way of excitement on tap for Saturday. Maybe Florida State and USF will have a little juice. Maybe Baylor at West Virginia will be fun. Other than that, it is just kind of bleak by my scan.

Although it is an off week, there is some huge news in the F1 world. The circus silly season has begun with two huge moves. Lewis Hamilton is leaving McLaren after this season to go to Mercedes, where he will replace departing Michael Schumacher. Hamilton will team with the remaining Nico Rosberg Young and promising Sergio Perez will leave Sauber to replace Hamilton at McLaren and will team with Jenson Button. There is scuttlebutt Schumacher may not be done and may take a seat at Sauber, but I am not sure if I buy it. Lastly, one of the all time great auto racing announcers and commentators, Chris Economaki, has passed away at age 91.

In baseball, Jim white’s TB rays are making a balls out stretch run at the playoffs, but they lost a tough one tonight, and they are running out of time and are three back of a wildcard slot. The Orioles are still one back of the Yanks for the AL East. Compelling stuff.

This weeks music is to honor the joy of real refs, and is a rare early live show, with surprisingly good sound, of Blind Faith.

Bmaz is a rather large saguaro cactus in the Southwestern Sonoran desert. A lover of the Constitution, law, family, sports, food and spirits. As you might imagine, a bit prickly occasionally. Bmaz has attended all three state universities in Arizona, with both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Arizona State University, and with significant post-graduate work (in physics and organic chemistry, go figure) at both the University of Colorado in Boulder and the University of Arizona. Married, with both a lovely child and a giant Sasquatch dog. Bmaz has been a participant on the internet since the early 2000’s, including active participation in the precursor to Emptywheel, The Next Hurrah. Formally joined the Emptywheel blog as an original contributing member at its founding in 2007. Bmaz grew up around politics, education, sports and, most significantly, cars; notably around Formula One racing and Concours de Elegance automobile restoration and showing. Currently lives in the Cactus Patch with his lovely wife and beast of a dog, and practices both criminal and civil trial law.
88 replies
  1. nomolos says:

    As was clearly demonstrated the NFL Corporation does not give a sweet damn about the quality of their product they only care about how much they can make. Of course not giving a shit about the quality of professional sports was set in motion years ago when the various professional sport leagues started to expand. I mean ice hockey in LA, you have to be kidding that is like putting baseball in Toronto…

    I used to attend Patriot’s games, Red Sock’s games, Bruin’s games but no more I will not put money in the hands of those greedy bastards (of course I am getting too bloody old to scamper around the various stadia anyway).

    In T20 World Cup Australia is looking strong in their defeat of India while the reigning champions, England, lost to the West Indies the other day.

  2. lefty665 says:

    Thanks bmaz. Saw a CNN quote in a interview the other day asking if the “refs should be forced to go back to work”. No acknowledgement that they’d been locked out, and it put the onus on those evil refs who were willfully depriving the USA of decent officiating. It borders on terrorism dontchaknow.

    A union that could not leverage the Packers debacle to get the agreement it wanted is not really a labor organization.

  3. P J Evans says:

    I think fans were getting loud enough that the NFL had to do something.
    When football fans start talking about boycotting games, including their local teams, it means real money will disappear from the league’s income stream, and they can’t have that happen; the owners might have to take a pay cut.

  4. bmaz says:

    @P J Evans: It was actually the public perception more than anything as to the NFL. Their television contracts are valid and would pay them billions whether fans boycott or not. Most tickets are already sold on a season basis. I doubt they were worried about the fact of the boycott as much as the optics.

    Oh, and they didn’t give up all that much really.

  5. Peterr says:

    If you were Roger Goodell, and had to pick one team to get shafted on MNF in full view of an angry television audience, you’d want it to be the Packers. Imagine the next NFL owners meeting if it were any other team.

    For that matter, I think that among the thousands of phone calls that Goodell received on Tuesday, there might have been a few from other owners watching that game, with some version of “Last night, it was the Cheeseheads who got screwed, but next week it might be my team. Settle the damn contract and get the real refs back.”

  6. lefty665 says:

    @bmaz: “Oh, and they (owners) didn’t give up all that much really.” Thank you again bmaz.

    Going from defined benefit to defined contribution on retirement plans was a huge win for the owners. It capitated their cost and shifted all the risk to the refs. That should have been a personal foul with penalty and loss of down.

    Was there no one negotiating for the NFLRA?

  7. rosalind says:

    as soon as the wires lit up with how bad the MNF mess affected Vegas, i smiled and said “cool, we’re getting the real refs back this week!”

  8. JohnT says:

    Mandatory Favruh reference ;-)

    Oak Grove HS loses on a come from behind last minute pass and Favrah blows a gasket


    PS Baylor and WV are wearing out the scoreboard. Mountaineers 42, Bears 35 in the 3rd

  9. emptywheel says:

    @Peterr: I think Robert Kraft prolly had his say (though I don’t think the Pats lost bc of the refs). He was pretty instrumental in the NFLPA agreement, wouldn’t be surprised if he were here.

  10. Peterr says:

    one of the all time great auto racing announcers and commentators, Chris Economaki, has passed away at age 91.

    A true great, indeed.

    *raising a glass*

    To Chris!


  11. Peterr says:

    @JohnT: I went to Northwestern back in the day, when scores like 70-7 were common. The band’s favorite cheer was “That’s all right, that’s OK/you’re gonna work for us some day.”

    Seeing NU atop the Big Ten at 5-0 (after beating Indiana 44-29 today) is still something it is hard for me to grasp.

  12. bmaz says:

    @Peterr: Yeah, but go look at the standings right this minute: Penn State is leading the other division. So, it is early in the conference schedule for the Big 10.X

  13. masaccio says:

    Refs always make mistakes, and some of them cost a team a game. But when real refs blow a call, we recognize it as part of the game, and everyone can see which team “should” have won.

    With the scabs, the refereeing was so awful that they were screwing up the outcomes so badly that you didn’t know which team “should” have won. Look at the Patriots/Ravens game. The refs were calling defensive holding on receivers randomly on both teams. There was no consistency. The players reacted by pushing on the boundaries of the penalty, and then screaming at the refs. Who knows which team “should” have won?

  14. Peterr says:


    One of the best comments on this mess came from an EPSN analyst I heard this week whose name escapes me. He had spent about a dozen years as an NFL player before becoming a broadcaster. He said “As a player, I argued with refs about calls. I’d get angry when things didn’t go my way, but not once — not once! — did I ever question whether they knew the rules. Over the last three weeks, I found myself constantly questioning the replacement refs and whether they know the rules. Again and again, the answer I came up with was ‘no.’ That’s unacceptable.”

  15. JohnLopresti says:

    @JohnT: make that Calendar the Mayall calendar, predecessor to the Blind Faith chimera; Bruce and Clapton both played with English lad Mayall in the early Bluesbreakers.

    But, I don’t know much about this stuff anymore. It’s poster art.

    But Ginger was in Blind Faith, too, notably, the group which survived a trial best surmounted by being born later and gaining fame later.

    I hope the refs union makes a training film of tho first several games of the season. If the post-production could be complete by Halloween, that would be an appropriate day to disseminate it.

    There’s something about blues that makes for musicians with long lives, who just get better. Though, in my view, some vis about jazz rock fusion…so-called…which is best seen as an event, a six-week gig, a two-year stint, rather than what Blind tried to do, with eyes open. It’s better to Be There.

    By all means, allow replay; but the refs get only limited selections of replay, according to what I saw in the news. Rules of evidence and all that; one has to follow the court’s rules…

  16. Peterr says:

    @JohnLopresti: “I hope the refs union makes a training film of tho first several games of the season.”

    It should be made in the genre of Steve Sabol and NFL Films, with James Earl Jones as the Voice of God narrator.

  17. bmaz says:

    @JohnLopresti: Oh, I know John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers. That is also where Peter Green and Mick Taylor came from; in fact Jagger poached Taylor to replace Brian Jones in the Stones when Taylor was still very young. I saw a reformed version at a local joint called the Celebrity Theater in the mid 80s sometime. Pretty damn good, but no one with the guitar chops they had in the 60s.

  18. JohnT says:


    Know anybody in Vegas? Cheeseheads are -7.5 over the Aints. I’ll give the Saints the 7.5 without even thinking about it

    They’re going to win by double digits. Not sure about the over/under but the Pack is gonna score at least 35 or 40+. They’re PO’d about Monday; the Saints are horrible in pass D; and the Cheesers have had a run of playing against tough Defenses going back to the end of last year, so I think they’ll let the offense loose. Rodgers passes for 400+ yards by the end of the 3rd quarter

    Take the Pack

    PS Have no idea who wins Vikings v Lions. Historical conventional wisdom says Vikings, recent conventional wisdom says Lions, but this year …? Vikings weren’t as bad as their record indicated last year, most of their losses were within 7 points. This year, both the passing offense and the passing defense have improved. Even though he’s not a running back, Percy Harvin could be the modern day Barry Sanders 2.0 or Tony Dorsett. I don’t know if the Vikings can contain Megatron. Will Stafford play?

    If it’s a high scoring shootout, I think Detroit wins

  19. Peterr says:


    Speaking of PO’d . . . Penn State put a beatdown on Illinois today — in Champaign — to thank the Illini coaching staff for coming to Happy Valley and trying to poach some of the Penn State players when the NCAA put down the hammer on the Nittney Lions.

    The Cheeseheads will be looking for revenge on the whole NFL for what happened last Monday night. And they’re going to get it.

  20. Jim White says:

    WTF? Kentucky up ten on South Carolina at the half and Towson State up on LSU? Georgia also didn’t look good. Suddenly, the Gators look like the team to beat in the SEC East. I did not expect that this year.

  21. Peterr says:

    Re Wisconsin v Nebraska . . .

    Mrs Dr Peterr: “20-3? In Lincoln?!?! I can’t believe this. Something’s got to happen here — this is not right.”

  22. bmaz says:

    @Peterr: DUDE! Not that there is anything wrong with that!

    Come on man, hot chicks in frilly things is good. Always. If it sells at Jerry World, then that is capitalism my friend.

    Don’t deny, just be thankful for the supply.

  23. Peterr says:

    @Peterr: Following the link back to the original piece . . .

    What the Cowboys are lacking are more opportunities to make “they are soft” jokes. Because selling bra and panties won’t fit into that line of thinking at all. But it will neat to be able to buy an official Jerry Jones lingerie outfit for that special someone at Christmas.

    “Official Jerry Jones lingerie outfit”? Pass the brain bleach.

  24. bmaz says:

    @Peterr: Yeah, you know, so long as it is Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders in the lingerie, and not Jerry Jones, I will not be needing any brain bleach.

    Banks that are too bit to fail. Banksters that are too big to be charged. Presidential officeholders and subordinates that openly and willfully commit US statutory crimes, Constitutional crimes and international war crimes.

    But I should care that the Dallas Cowboys have some hot chicks and purvey that meme? They have been doing that a VERY long time. Sex sells. This is an ancient meme. I will still buy it now. So what?

  25. Peterr says:

    @bmaz: Ancient indeed, going back to the “America’s Team” blather. At least.

    But when I see this on top of Goodell’s “the integrity of the game” stuff, it’s a bit more than I can take. Especially after Jerry built the cage dancer platforms into the stadium.

  26. Peterr says:

    More SEC-like stuff from Urban Meyer? From

    On Saturday afternoon, Michigan State’s 2012 Big Ten season got off to a rough start with a 17-16 loss against Ohio State, though it seems the Spartans believe they were at a disadvantage.

    According to the Detroit Free Press, Michigan State filed a complaint with the Big Ten saying that Ohio State doctored game film it was required to send to Michigan State.

    “We had tape cut off all week, where they changed the tape, I’m not gonna lie to you,” Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi said outside the MSU locker room. “They send you tape and they’ve got it all cut off and you don’t get to see shifts or motions or anything else.

    “A few other teams we talked to that [Ohio State] played, and we compared what they were looking at on tape to what we were looking at. We’re like ‘We don’t see any of that. We see it on their tape but not on our tape.’ So that’s something I’m sure the Big Ten office will hopefully take care of.”

    Teams in the Big Ten are required to provide game tape to opponents before they play. Narduzzi said Michigan State didn’t get complete tape from Ohio State until Thursday.

    When asked about the tape on Saturday, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said he didn’t know what anybody was talking about. . .

    Why does the phrase “plausible deniability” come to mind?

  27. bmaz says:

    Wake up people, it’s time to rock and roll.

    So, I got the Niners and Tebows, Tebows, Tebows on my TV for the early game.

  28. emptywheel says:

    My pack went to the beach to walk off the sore muscles from yesterday’s race. By the time we came back to the TV, where both my teams were on, both were down 20-6 or 7.

    Jeebus. Should have stayed at the beach, where it was sunny, gorgeous, and quiet.

  29. jo6pac says:

    That was better, 9ers were out played and coached last week made up for it this week. tebow looked good in his one play;)and don’t think he would have made a difference. Homes games next for the 9ers, I hate morning games.

  30. Bob Schacht says:

    I’m late to the party– but is it just my imagination, or are the Birds and the Fish both deliberately using the Forward Fumble as part of their offense?

    Bob in AZ

  31. emptywheel says:

    @Bob Schacht: Prolly a test to make sure the real refs know what they’re doing.

    bmaz thinks the Cardinals will start doing poorly now that real refs will be calling the game.

  32. Peterr says:

    @bmaz: Sadly, Ryan resisted temptation.

    But it’s gonna be a helluva week with the Tebowlers demanding he be the starter for their next game.

    Meaning, of course, that Tbogg will have fresh material aplenty.

  33. scribe says:

    @Peterr: I think, if one considers Fat Rex’ brief film career as having given him empirical proof, he already knows that giving in after resisting makes the giving-in all the more intensely pleasurable.

    So, when he finally knuckles under to the coming whirlwind of Tebowmania ….

    I just wonder whether it will be Woody (or someone else) who pushes him over the edge to putting Baby Jeebus first on the depth chart.

  34. phred says:

    @jo6pac: Just one play, eh? Just tuned in for the late games and took a peek on-line for the early scores… Jets nada. Wowser. And Tebow only got one play?

    I’m thinking the Niners were embarrassed losing to the Vikings last week and wanted to make a statement ; )

  35. bmaz says:

    @phred: It would not have been possible for Tebow to be worse than Sanchez. I finally started watching a Law & Order rerun. Cause it had better offense than the Jets.

    So, Scribes theory about the real refs spelling doom for the Cardinals looks accurate.

  36. phred says:

    : ) I would just like to say that I’m really enjoying these fake kicks by the Pack’s special team this year : )

  37. scribe says:

    @phred: The fan of the J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS is nothing if not a masochist with strong manic-depressive tendencies, lottery-player-level delusions, and a bigger mouth. They’ll have all but the end of the world to complain about this week. Wish I had some streaming audio available here, so I could listen to WFAN live.

    OH, to be in Noo Yawk after the J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS lose the way they did today.

  38. phred says:

    @scribe: LOL, maybe if you’re lucky you can pick up some Jets-related A.M. talk radio to bask in the warm glow of their appreciative fans ; )

  39. scribe says:

    @phred: Not in their service area. Sadly. Have to rely on the toobs, and there’s no streaming stuff where I’m at now – limited capacity. Otherwise I’d be rocking to WFAN.

  40. Bay State Librul says:


    Where did they get this guy?
    The magic of Belichick

    Bolden, an undrafted rookie, ran the ball 16 times for 137 yards and a touchdown while Ridley cruised out to 106 yards and a pair of scores on 22 carries. The duo was unbelievably effective, especially behind an ailing offensive line, becoming the first pair of Patriots to run for 100-yards in the same game since 1980

  41. Peterr says:

    @bmaz: And the Arizona Bidwells pull out a win as well.

    From ESPN:

    The [Bidwells] are off to their best start since winning their first seven 38 years ago. They’ve won 9 of 11 overall and eight straight at home. Of those eight wins, five have come in overtime.

    “That’s how we do it,” [WR Andre] Roberts said. “I don’t know what it is about us. We have to take it down to the last moment of the game, but we’re winning and that’s all that matters.”

    Are they just lucky?

    “It’s not luck, I can tell you that,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “It can’t be luck as many times as we’ve been successful with that.”

  42. bmaz says:

    @Peterr: Well, they sucked shit for 2.5 quarters. The Buckin Bidwells need more consistent play out of the QB if they are going to keep winning. But the next wo games are at St. Louis and home with the Bills. So, maybe….

  43. phred says:

    @bmaz: Was it me, or do the Aints, uh, tackle high? As in around the ears, eyes, nose, & throat ; )

    Woodson sure didn’t seem too happy, with their play, did he? ; )

  44. Peterr says:

    @Petrocelli: If you think the debates between the supporters of Barack “eleventy dimensional chess” Obama and the third party/”don’t vote (it just encourages them)” folks have been ugly, you should listen to sports radio in KC.

  45. bmaz says:

    @Peterr: You know, I came close to injecting myself into the former kerfuffle over the last couple of days, even substantially started the post, and just decided it wasn’t worth the effort.

  46. JohnT says:

    Missed the Packers v Aints game

    What’s up with the cheesers? Is there some flaw? Or “tell”, or something that the other teams are exploiting on the Packers offense and defense?

    Like on the offense, remember 6 or 7 or 8 years ago when the Colts played the Raiders, and were beating the crap out of them, but then in the second half the Raiders had an answer for everything Peyton Manning called because the Raiders figured out his calls at the line of scrimmage.

    Something is obviously there that the other teams are seeing. Or are they just not as good as everybody thought they were?

  47. scribe says:

    How ’bout them Owboys?


    Romo’s mind must have been on his coming shopping tour of Victoria’s Secret, in the Jerryworld concourse. Quarterbacks like Romo have to have appropriate undies to go with the skirts they wear.

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