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Anarchy in Baltimore



Tonight’s NFL game was a nice illustration of what happens when the putative authority figures in a social situation are neither respected or feared by the people they are supposed to be regulating.

Good to see the network announcers have given up on defending this crap.

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  • Scott Lemieux

    When AL Michaels — a Republican hack whose income depends on the NFL — isn’t willing to defend the scabs, you know they’ve been atrocious.

    • firefall

      Yeah, I was astonished that he and Collinsworth actually despaired over the officiating a couple of times. A truly awful game.

    • TT

      Michaels also said postgame that “we don’t know who’s right or wrong here” when it comes to the ref lockout. Which, given his slavish pro-ownership/anti-NFLPA history, is basically like Rush Limbaugh saying “we don’t know who’s a greater president, Reagan or Carter”. Baby steps.

      • brad

        Michaels also did a facepalm when Collinsworth tried the cringeworthy line of reasoning that these games are actually better to watch because they combine MMA with the NFL, fwiw.
        They are salesmen, in the end, and they know it.

        But they want a good product to sell, and they know they don’t have it.

        • Anonymous

          There is a trainwreck quality to it, which would be fine if it wasn’t endangering players, effecting game results, and causing the games to take much more time than they should.

  • adolphus

    Are the replacement refs really scabs? Technically this is not a strike but a lockout. Does that matter?

    I ask because I called them scabs earlier today and someone corrected me. I am not confident enough in my labor vocabulary to argue. I just skulked back for more nachos.

    • Yes.

    • mark f

      True; these refs might actually be something even worse than scabs.

      • Holden Pattern

        This. Workers who show up as replacements when the owners have locked out the union are something lower than a scab.

        • patrick II

          A bleeding scab?

          • A chancre.

          • Colin


          • CaitieCat


          • wjts


          • Leeds man

            Suppurating pustules.

    • wengler

      They are festering boils on the ass of American football.

    • John

      As others have said, being a replacement worker during a lockout is pretty clearly worse than being a replacement worker during a strike. I don’t see how “scab” could possibly be inappropriate.

    • Heron

      A Scab is just any replacement worker brought in to break the regular(typically unionized) workers and get them to abandon their demands. In this case, the “lockout” resulted from the owners deciding they didn’t like the contract they had with the Refs, but that’s only marginally different from bosses refusing to negotiate and forcing the workers to strike as a result.

    • Leeds man

      Would an NHL player who goes to play in Europe be considered a scab for replacing native players?

      • Obviously not, as long as the “native” players a free to compete for the jobs.

        • Leeds man

          “free to compete”. Amusing. Still, millionaire NHL players (are there any who make less than $1M a year?) would be displacing the lower-end guys in the European leagues, who probably make less than one tenth the incomers’ salaries. For some reason that bothers me.

          • It certainly means that when the NHL owners decide to fire all the players and hire replacements, the NHLPA won’t have much moral ledge to cling to.

            Not that I support the owners in the NHL lockout. Like the owners of every single sports team on earth, they are the very definition of rent seeking parasite. They produce nothing, they sponge handouts from the taxpayer, and contribute nothing positive to the game or the fans.

            • Bill Murray

              but who do they hire? most non-NHL players are already contracted aren’t they?

          • Bill Murray

            wouldn’t the displaced players move down a league? Probably for a little less money, but unlike the NFL there are multiple leagues aren’t there?

            • Leeds man

              I don’t know Bill, but I think elite hockey players in Europe have salaries which are closer to national averages, descending very rapidly with playing level.

  • mark f

    As a Pats fan I will not go quite so far as to blame this loss on the scabs, but I will disagree with what Collinsworth is saying as I type this. Namely, this was not a great game. The officiating totally ruined it. 900 yards of offense and a last second FG and the game fucking sucked. I’m beginning to understand the Republican regulatory uncertainty argument.

    • adolphus

      As a Ravens fan I agree. It is getting to be a game in which the winner isn’t the team who played the best on the field so much as the team that is able to get the most shitty calls go your way.

      It all kind of reminds me of Rollerball at this point, complete with John Houseman-esque grubby corporate leaders.

      • As another Ravens fan, I’ll say it’s impossible to say who “should” have won this game. The refs were asurdly overmatched from the very beginning of the game. But my God am I proud of my city for that historical “bullshit” chance. If that doesn’t break the owners, nothing will.

        • scanner

          I hope fans in every other stadium are taking notes on that for the next refereeing disaster. That chant was so loud Michaels and Collinsworth’s headsets would probably have picked it up had they simply muted all the field noise.

          • They’re back in Balmer for a national game on Thursday. Just saying.

        • mark f

          That was a moment of beauty. “I’ve never heard a ‘manure’ chant so loud.” – Al Michaels

        • Hannibal Lechter

          That was amazing. I wonder how, exactly, that got started.

          You have to think if that becomes common, the NFL will back down. The puritans in our society will not behappy if “the children” might be exposed to cuss words on a Sunday afternoon. What if the FCC forces the NFL to tape-delay games to bleep that out or starts fining the networks? This could get ugly.

          • elm

            Crap. A bad joke a week ago, and the name is still wrong!

          • KadeKo

            Plenty of sportscasts are delayed a few seconds so the dump button can be used. (And I’m talking about womens’ basketball!)

            Doesn’t the NFL do this already as a natural addition to all the “miked up” stuff they wire players and coaches for?

            At some point a fleeting expletive is easier to dump than a lusty crowd chant. Cool.

        • KadeKo

          Heeheehee. That part was exceptionally fun, in the “can no longer paper over the cracks” category.

          And to remind all of an extremely cheesy movie, I’ve taken to calling them The Replacements.

          • Halloween Jack

            Hey, now! I thought that their cover of “Mustang Sally” was pretty–oh, wait, never mind.

        • SamR

          I’m a Patriots fan, and felt like the calls had gone the Ravens way until a couple bad pro-Patriot calls, but lord God I was chanting along in my living room with the crowd. An excellent moment.

  • After several weeks of observing the performance of the replacement officials, both teams have learned what they can expect to be picked up and what will be ignored. This night’s ill-tempered slugfest was the result.
    The change of tone from the announcers was welcome, but really, why has it taken them 3 weeks to wake up? The shortcomings of the officials were clear from the first weekend, and I was expecting a game like this sooner or later. Once the teams decide that the officials are incompetent, they will try all sorts of horseshit.
    The real danger is that the lack of consistent calls on helmet-to-helmet contact will lead to a life-threatning or life-terminating injury on the field. If that happens, the $37m or so that the NFL is supposedly saving by their offer to the officials will suddenly look like the pocket-change of idiots.

    • adolphus

      KInd of like what happened to the guy in the Steelers-Raiders game? Anyone hear how he is?

      • Stable condition, staying in the hospital.

        • adolphus


    • Rob

      On the last real play run in the Pittsburgh-Oakland game (there was a QB dive then the GW FG) there was a uncalled chop block by Oakland that easily could have knocked out the Pittsburgh NT for the rest of the season.

    • firefall

      Well it already DOES look like pocket change – add up the years income from 32 football teams, and it comes to, what, 1% of 1%?

      • wengler

        This was never about money. This was about showing a bunch of peons who is in control. Considering a lot of the regular refs have pretty high-buck regular jobs, they are probably just sitting at home laughing their heads off.

        Note that if the NFL was willing to pay for some sort of professional developmental system like any other major sport, they could’ve probably already scrapped those pesky defined benefits pensions. But just like everything they offload their costs on someone else.

        • I haven’t seen exact breakdowns but my impression is that many NFL refs are high-education / high-status / over-achiever workaholics (or is that just Ed Hochuli?). Anyway, I don’t think they’ll have too much trouble lasting the season if need be.

    • efgoldman

      The real danger is that the lack of consistent calls on helmet-to-helmet contact will lead to a life-threatning or life-terminating injury on the field…

      Have the scabs called a single one (helmet to helmet)? Serious question.
      Or a chop block?
      Or diving at the QB’s knees?

  • shah8

    I’ve gotten pretty fed up with the NFL. On top of what seems to be ever increasing racism about the QB position, which really makes it hard to bear Eagles losses, the sheer amount of game interruptions have made any game with teams I’m not invested in a real drag. Even when I was watching the SF-Minn game. The NFL just doesn’t give a shit. They don’t care about whether we have half the league stocked with bad QBs, just because, and they don’t care if the refs blow games. The gamblers matter more than the sport. And so long as the games are unpredictable…

    • Erm, Vick and the Eagles sucking=racism? You haz watched RG3?

      • shah8

        Well, sorta that’s what I’m talking about.

        What the hell did RG3 ever have to do with anything? That sort of crap always makes following a team with a black QB online a Pain In the Ass, emotionally. A pain in the ass that online forum moderators has had to literally scrub comments wholesale when it gets bad.

        And of course, the aside about the racism gets top billing in your head than any part agreeing with the post. Examine yourself much?

        • shah8

          I mean, all I ever really wanted was for my team to suck in peace, without the extra crap that comes with it.

        • I guess I don’t know what you’re seeing, so I don’t know if it’s bringing out the racist subset, but obviously Vick and the Eagles O-line have issues right now that go far beyond “my goodness that black QB is running the ball!”

          • Anonymous

            Yeah, you’re the real racist for commenting on such a bullshit statement by using a counterexample.

  • Scott Lemieux

    One thing that Michaels and Collinsworth missed was that Belichick wasn’t going crazy on the Jones catch on the last drive because he thought he interfered; he was going crazy because Jones was called out of bounds when he wasn’t. Whether this affected the outcome is unknowable, of course.

    At any rate, I don’t think the bad officiating was a problem because it caused the wrong team to win or whatever. The most egregious late call (failing to call Lewis for tackling a receiver) didn’t stop NE from getting a first down, on a call that at best was right despite being called for the wrong reason. The Patriots had a chance to put the game away offensively and defensively and failed (and the PI call to set up the winning field goal was one of the few calls they clearly got right.) The problem with the officiating is that officiating that incompetent ruins the game.

    • The refs had no control of the game early on, and from the dumbass personal foul on Ngata for not being able to stop a 300+ pound body on a dime, they resolved to do what the league told them to do by just throwing flags at random through the rest of the game.

      On the downside, this means that the local media will back of the ferocious beating they’ve been giving Cam Cameron this week, so I expect the Pats to get their revenge in the postseason. And next year. And the next year…

    • The penultimate Baltimore drive which needed to result in a score featured two bullshit calls on the Pats. The last Pats drive featured a bullshit fifteen yard penalty on Harbaugh. Also the last Pats drive was extended after an interception was waived off due to an incorrect call. (It may have been right to waive it for other reasons, but the call as given was incorrect.)

      I’m completely down with saying irregardless of their effect on the outcome, the quality of the game (and this game in particular) is diminished by the scab refs. But the outcome of this game in particular was certainly influenced by the scab refs.

      (What’s lower than a scab? A “welt”?)

      • Scott Lemieux

        Right, it’s not that the outcome wasn’t influenced, it’s just not clear if a correctly called game results in a Pats victory.

        • Anonymous

          The scabs were terrible, but McCourty dropped two “easy” interceptions. The game should not have been that close.

          • Shugbear

            To go along with McCourty’s drops was Arrington falling down on a horrible “here you win the game” pass from Flacco that should he should have intercepted.

      • john

        I’m sorry did you say “irregardless”?

        • Yes, but the italics were intended as a knowing wink.

    • Jonas

      And I haven’t seen this mentioned because this is several points down the rung of obvious atrocious officiating, but the referees incompetence had another huge effect on the game. These were teams that use no huddle offense extensively, and the refs routinely took 15 seconds or so to spot the ball, diluting its effectiveness. I think it probably hurt the Patriots more (there were several closeups of Lewis and Reed breathing heavy during these delays), although I haven’t seen the Ravens enough to know how effective theirs is. At any rate, it changed the nature of this game if not its outcome.

  • I wish the players would just say “we’re calling this a picket line, and we’re not crossing it”

    • From what I have read elsewhere, the players’ current Collective Bargaining Agreement prevents them from doing that.

      • witless chum

        It would be helpful if they’d just publicly threaten Goodell.

        • JRoth

          You mean physically? That might not be covered in the CBA, but it seems unlikely to be legal.

      • James Hare

        That’s why the league wouldn’t play a season without a CBA — part of their pleadings in court was that the players would be encouraged to use the threat of strike for leverage in negotiations.

        There’s no way the players would try striking this early in a season anyways. If they want to hurt the owners they’d do it come playoff time.

    • Himself

      What the players COULD do is refuse to play because thier health is being threatened due to the numbskulls in stripes.

  • I have never, ever seen so many defensive holding calls in my life.

    I’m not saying that they weren’t holding, or that all of the calls were bogus (they weren’t).

    But the average NFL game* probably features between 0-2 defensive holding calls. I saw…I don’t know – it felt like dozens.

    Clearly the players and coaches are trying to turn the situation (unskilled/undertrained refs) to their advantage, and the result was another clusterfuck.

    *Caveat – I couldn’t find this data, but I watch a lot of NFL (as, clearly, some others here do) and this is my rough estimate. I would love to stand corrected.

    • The refs got shit for not calling illegal contact last week, so…

    • James E. Powell

      Some of the defensive holding/illegal contact calls were pretty bad. The phantom call against NE at a critical point produced an extremely loud silence from Michaels and Collinsworth. There was another, similar WTF call against the Ravens.

      But what made the game less than a game was that there was even more uncalled defensive and offensive holding going on all game. And unlike the political stuff, it was definitely both sides do it.

      The NFL owners, not Goodell, are the ones who are responsible for what is going on.

      Will Bellichik talk to Kraft tomorrow and explain that he and his ilk cost the Patriots two games in a row?

      • Mike

        Kraft to Bellichik: “It is what it is.”

    • Quercus

      And — I watched a lot of the game in FF, so I really am asking — am I the only one who thought nearly all the defensive holding/illegal contact/PI calls came on incompletes, with the flag either away from the play or only being thrown after the pass was incomplete?

      Anyway, I’m sure the NFL paid attention to this year’s NBA playoffs and decided that poor and biased officiating just doesn’t matter to the public.

      • JRoth

        Actually, there’s an interesting issue in how the 2 leagues are officiated in general. The NBA, famously, is called more or less randomly relative to many rules (traveling, charging, blocking, etc.) – no foul/violation of those rules is ever 100% likely to be called, and the vast majority get called at something like a 25% rate – 1 in 4 get called, whether there are 8 occurrences or 20 in a game. The upshot is that NBA fans expect impressionistic refereeing (and would be shocked by a tightly refereed game; arguably, such a game would simply grind to a halt, since none of the players are used to it).

        In contrast, the NFL is schizophrenic on calls: holding is very much like traveling in the NBA*, but most calls, especially those relating to ball handlers, are called pretty rigorously – calls are blown, of course, but fans genuinely expect most DI calls to be made correctly. One result of that is that the scabs screw up on both sides – they’re incompetent to get all the DI-type calls correct, and they also lack the game feel to identify which holding-type calls they should be making.

        I’ll say this: I kind of thought statements about player safety were overblown, but these 3 weeks have really shown just how much refs are involved in keeping the game safe. I guess I was naive to expect professionals to have some sense of self-policing on life/safety issues.

        * one of the funniest things IMO about the Seattle whining after the Steelers beat them in the Super Bowl was that the one holding call shouldn’t have been whistled – not because the player didn’t hold, but because… I guess it’s one of those unwritten rules? It wasn’t a hold hold?

        • mpowell

          The big difference in the NBA is that you have about 100 possessions a game and generally the worst thing that can happen due to a bad call is that a possession results in 2 points or it doesn’t. So random mistakes without a bias are not really a problem in influencing the outcome. And as long as things ‘look’ okay, it’s not a problem from the position of spectators.

  • Manju

    I’m going to defer judgment until Gisele Bundchen weighs in.

    • Uncle Ebeneezer


  • dp

    Watching SportsCenter, I don’t see how the NFLPA can let their members go out there with these incompetents running things. It seems there’s a legitimate player safety concern when you’re having players knocked out of virtually every game by illegal hits, many of which aren’t even being penalized.

    • Rob

      Because they also know that no one wants a hearing in front of the NLRB during an election year.

  • brad

    It truly amazed me when the crowd started chanting “bullshit” for 10 seconds or so and the announcers didn’t even bother to try to cover it or disagree.

    In a sane world this would be a great example of the value of unions, how they do add to the quality of the product they’re involved in.

  • wengler

    It appears that most of you didn’t tune in to the 49ers-Vikings affair so let me tell you what happened.

    In the fourth quarter with the game clock winding down the 49ers called their last time out. Sometime after that Harbaugh threw his challenge flag. But how can he challenge a play when he has no timeouts you ask? No problems, in the new NFL we just make up the rules as we go along.

    After several minutes of trying to figure out what Harbaugh was even challenging, the game announcers finally figured out it was for the Vikings’ Gerhard fumbling the ball. But how could he have fumbled, the announcers asked, when the refs whistled the play dead before he dropped the ball? No problems, in the new NFL we just make up the rules as we go along. A dead play was challenged by a coach with no timeouts. Natural result: San Francisco gets the ball.

    Oh. I forgot to mention. Three minutes later Harbaugh called a timeout and then threw his challenge flag again. Someone understands the rules of the new NFL.

    • firefall

      Oh thats priceless (at least for someone with no interest in either team).

      • shah8

        No, no it wasn’t priceless. If you’ve sat there the whole time during the end of that game, you lost, like 15 minutes to bullshit conferencing and WTFs? Maybe *you* like to be the laidback sardonic cynic and chuckle at the pathetic amusement of it all, but I was trying to watch a football game, here!

        • Manju

          right…it wasn’t priceless. It was timeless.

    • MAJeff

      Yeah, I was watching that game. The scabs were atrocious.

    • Kurzleg

      Heard the game on the radio driving back from Milwaukee. Harbaugh’s just doing what the players are doing: seeing what he can get away with. The difference is that this situation isn’t like a judgment call. The rules are cut and dried. So which explanation makes you feel better? That the refs don’t know and can’t apply the rules, or that the refs can be manipulated in this manner? Had MN lost, this situation might have been the moment when the owners and Goodell were forced to negotiate with the union refs. Since that didn’t happen, it’ll just be forgotten.

      • David W.

        I’m not so sure about that, given what I heard coming from the Vikings/49ers game’s announcers, who were pissed off about the officiating and had no problems saying so repeatedly.

        • Kurzleg

          Sure, but in terms of getting it on the national radar (ESPN, etc) you need the outcome to be impacted adversely. That didn’t happen, so it just gets mixed in with all the other examples of poor officiating.

    • efgoldman

      Someone understands the rules of the new NFL.


      • Ian

        If you put a player in the hospital you have to sing the Very Sorry Song.

  • Anon21

    Disclaimer: I don’t follow football at all.

    I’d be interested to see the results of a blind “taste test” type thing with scab refs and “real” refs. People love to complain about refs regardless of outside factors like this strike, and I’m willing to bet that a lot of the rending of garments and impassioned denunciations of the scabs is nothing more than ordinary ref fallibility combined with increased salience. Confirmation bias is powerful.

    • Anon21

      Largely unrelated, but this made me snicker:

      You cannot simply switch to a group of cheaper officials and fulfill your legal, moral, and duty obligations to us and our fans.

      I get that it’s a group of football players, but do the players themselves need to draft the press releases?

    • Test 1: The broadcasters calling the games in real time have extremely powerful incentives to not fuck with the league in general and to not call out officiating in particular. Some (most?) have personal political preferences disinclining them from criticizing “management” as well. There has been nigh universal condemnation from broadcasters about the scab refs.

      Test 2: Even more powerful are the incentives for a different group, post-game analysis shows eg Sportscenter, to avoid denouncing the officiating. And again we find lots of denouncement.

      Test 3: Things are happening in games that never ever ever happen in games. The scab refs misplace where the ball is supposed to go on the field by five yards, mess up the count and conduct of timeouts, call defensive fouls on offensive players, etc. If one of these things happened over the course of a weekend they would be played ad inifinitum on every clips show and talked about on every bullshit radio and tv shouting session because it’s so out of the ordinary. And yet something like that is happening in many (most?) games.

      Test 4: NFL personnel themselves have reacted to the scab refs. The League has had to issue warnings and update their policies about the coaches’ increased battering of the refs, and some coaching staffs and players have said they are changing how they play to take advantage of the arbitrary/shoddy nature of the refereeing. (This one’s weaker, since it’s still fairly consistent with an apparent change in ref style/quality and not an actual change; after three weeks, though, the fact they’re still modifying their behavior starts becoming more concrete evidence for their being a real change.)

      That’s a start. And on the other side of the scale, I can’t think of any observations that support the confirmation bias theory.

      • Scott Lemieux

        ALso, a lot of people — like our own Richard — bent over backwards to make excuses for the scab refs in the first week, although they were obviously amateurish. After 3 weeks, pretty much nobody — including paid shills for the NFL — is making excuses. Christ, it’s so bad Peter King might say something.

        • Richard

          And even I’ve been converted. It looks like the refereeing has gotten worse as the weeks have progressed

          • James E. Powell

            As n increases, you get a clearer picture of what is actually happening.

          • Ed

            It has gotten worse. The first week was not that bad. Probably the owners were pleased and expected the scabs to improve while the players would remain relatively docile and not exploit the situation. Not so much.

            • Richard

              I agree. Its gotten worse from week to week

        • Bill Murray

          well Belicheck and Brady had some problems, so King will likely be all over the bad reffing. If only Brett Favre were still playing.

          • Yep, he’s right on schedule declaring that Pats-Ravens should be the back-breaking straw.

        • Fighting Words

          Peter King actually has been complaining about the scabs for (at least) the last two weeks.

    • Rob

      Uhh, no. There are basic rules being violated. We aren’t talking about missing calls, we are talking about when teams get to challenge a play or when a team gets charged a time out for an injury.

      But hey since you have no idea what you are talking about I’m sure you are really the correct one.

      • Eric

        Right. This doesn’t happen on a week to week basis in a normal year.

    • terry

      No, you don’t follow football at all.

  • angry bitter drunk

    You can say a lot of things about Belichick. Personally I think he’s brilliant, and the fact that he’s also kind of a heartless prick is something I for the most part view as another of his good points.

    But no matter how you feel about Belichick, did you ever expect to see him lose his cool, ever? If Belichick is that bent out of shape over the officiating, think of all the other coaches, players and fans with a far lower boiling point.

    Something really, really bad is going to happen very, very soon. Something far worse than 80,000 fans chanting a not-for-TV word.

    Ultimately though, the NFL owners are playing all of us for chumps. Until we care more about the actual games than our fantasy teams and stop watching, we will continue to be subjected to this shit. Hell these SOBs would still be using the scab players from 1987 if the fans continued to watch that atrocity.

    Actually, this might be worse. The best officials miss a shite-ton of calls, but we see their value now. They at least control the chaos on the field.

    • Kurzleg

      The same goes for Leslie Frazier’s reaction to the extra timeouts and challenges granted to the 49ers yesterday. Frazier’s typically a very calm, collected and reserved guy, but he totally flipped out yesterday. That tells you something right there.

    • Patrick

      During the Eagles/Cards game I thought Andy Reid was going to have a heart attack. He always looks about one cheesesteak away but during the 10 minute long holding/not holding call that was both taken and declined his face was turning amazing new shades of red and purple.

    • Cody

      You would think that Belichick would thrive in this kind of situation.

      Maybe a few bribes or hiring some “fans” to wine & dine the referees before the big game.

      Who needs to pay people to video tape signal callers when you can just buy refs now!?

      • rhino

        I think the knock on the scabs is incompetence, not corruption…

        • efgoldman

          Someone understands the rules of the new NFL.

          So far. Remember, these guys have not been investigated in depth as the real zebras have….

  • What is it about Baltimore that whatever television is recorded there ends up making a strong case for unions?

    • Rarely Posts

      Because Baltimore is the greatest city in America. The benches say so, and benches wouldn’t lie — they have no agenda.

      I’m actually serious about this answer, but I expect jealous people to contest it.

      • firefall

        Thats like laying claim to the title of smartest man in Arkansas

        • Anonymous

          It makes you a young Bill Clinton?

  • arguingwithsignposts

    I don’t mean to defend the scab refs, but I do kind of feel sorry for them. Probably a little like the replacement NFL players from years back, they might have thought of having a shot at the “dream job” of reffing an NFL game for a few games. But they have been hopelessly overmatched and are – deservedly – receiving scorn for their poor officiating.

    • BobS

      I don’t feel sorry for anyone who takes someone elses job during a labor dispute. The replacement refs went into this knowing what the deal was.

    • Joe

      Is Gene Hackman ready to come out of retirement to star in Replacements 2: The Refs?

      • You know that The Replacements was not only a piece of shit aesthetically but a grotesquely pro-scab and pro-owner piece of shit, right?

        • Sherm

          The movie was as good politically and aesthetically as its leads are at acting.

        • arguingwithsignposts

          I disagree. The Replacements was a seminal 80s Minneapolis band.

  • Jonas

    A wild shootout between two of the best teams in the NFL and it was fucking painful to watch. Go NFL!

  • Amanda in the South Bay

    So basically, to sum up, we have a lot of pissed off, pro-union football fans here, who will regardless keep on watching the games. Got it.

    • Holden Pattern

      Unless you’re on somebody’s ratings watch list it really doesn’t matter whether you watch or not.

      • firefall

        idk, does cable monitor what channel you’re tuned to? the technology to do so seems trivial enough

        • firefall

          err sorry, DirecTV I meant, not cable

        • ploeg

          Cable operators should be monitoring closely to determine why they should be paying subscription fees for the NFL Network, for one.

          • Richard

            The cable operators will know exactly if any people are cancelling NFL subscription fees this season. My gut feeling is that this has not happened. But even if it did, the lost revenue to the cable operator is relatively small and they would still profit on offering the service so they would have no incentive to not offer it.

            Network figures for NFL games continue to be high because, despite the ref situation, the storylines are good. Return of Peyton Manning (playing great despite the 1-2 start), possible decline of the Saints, new powerhouses like the Cardinals, etc.

            • Cody


              (Full Disclosure: I’m a Colts Fan)

              I was watching the NFL Pre-Game detailing all of Peyton’s interceptions. They managed to blame the receivers for all of them. It’s probably true. Someone needs to smack Thomas, he has absolutely 0 discipline. In 2/3 picks Manning threw against the Falcons, Thomas just stopped. He just chilled midfield while not running a route, so he didn’t have to be covered.

        • Holden Pattern

          Yes, it’s trivial, but the networks don’t want it being done, because it fucks with their ability to fudge the numbers for advertising.

          That might have changed since the last time I looked.

    • terry

      So basically, you have a pointless comment.

    • Stan Gable

      I’m not watching. It’s not that I’m making any grand statement with my viewing habits just that the NFL has dropped a few pegs down on the list of “stuff I’d like to do on a Sunday.” I can’t imagine I’m the only one.

  • Joe

    Nothing like some craziness (politely said) on Sunday Night Football to send a message. The bullshit chant was hilarious though. I was under the impression you couldn’t say that on network television and it wasn’t fleeting either. It was a chant. Harder to bleep that way though.

    They lost “Richard,” who did not “bend over backwards” but simply disagreed with the main sentiment around here, so you know, trouble!

    • Richard

      Well in my own defense, my sentiment was based on the first four games I watched where I saw some missed pass interference calls but nothing more. In the last two games I watched, including the Niners game yesterday, the refs got the rules wrong. Question now is there a way of negotiating a compromise on the pension issue with the refs since the league has to do something. They’re not losing attendance or viewership but they’re losing integrity

      • Joe

        I realize it might sound silly to some who think these people are just greedy bastards but I think at some point “losing integrity” does matter especially if what they have to give up is relatively speaking not really that much for them. The “brand” overall matters to some degree. But, the “losing attendance or viewership” point (see also Amanda) is as you say telling. How much will the ‘brand’ matter to them if fans still will watch, scornfully or not.

        • Richard

          I think losing integrity matters because in the long run it translates into reduced viewership (which is what the league, of course, is all about). If nothing is done about the situation and the refereeing continues to deterioriate (I would have expected it to get better but it appears the refs are buckling under the pressure), then I would expect the league to be worried about reduced viewership, if not this year then next.

          Question I still have is whether its possible to reach a compromise with the real refs on the pension issue.

      • efgoldman

        Hell, and NBA ref went in the can. The sports radio huffers and puffers did their thing, along with some of their prurience, but it really didn’t effect anything much.

        If you want to say that the NBA is held to a lower standard, you’re right. That’s pretty much the point.

        • JRoth

          The NFL has invested crazy amounts in their brand. I usually think talk of branding overvalued, but I think that for the NFL, it really is about the brand, and every bit of it – including on-field integrity – matters. They want to be the most American thing in America, the sine qua non of the nation, and maintaining that kind of dominance – especially in this day and age – requires constant vigilance.

          If this thing lasts all season, there will be game-altering bad calls in the Super Bowl, with a billion people watching. I’m not sure that even the NFL can survive that without taking a reputational hit (that will translate into future lost revenues).

  • Usually just lurk

    As bad as the replacement Refs have been, the biggest issue has to be that there is now a MASSIVE exposure to game fixing.

    Previously the NFL took extensive steps to vet every Ref and monitor their behavior to make sure they were not susceptible to bribing. No gambling allowed of any kind at any time.

    And the most baffling thing about this whole freaking lockout is that the generous pension plan – which is what the NFL is trying to get rid of with this lockout – was intended to help prevent game fixing bribes. By promising the Refs a big pension after retirement, but obviously not if they get caught breaking rules, they provide a very big incentive for the Refs to play it straight. Rather, they “provided”.

    • Joshua

      The NBA got away with Donaghy because Stern is Stern, but the NFL has purposely put refereeing on the spotlight this year. If it turns out that one of these scab refs is fixing games, the NFL is dead by suicide.

      • Paul Campos

        I agree there’s a significant risk of a scandal of this sort, but if betting scandals killed big money sports leagues Serie A would have died nine times now.

        • firefall

          Paul …. it has. Zombie Serie A stalks the landscape nevertheless.

        • MattT

          On the other hand, you could argue that loss of trust in the integrity of what people were watching is part of the reason that boxing isn’t really a major sport anymore. Of course, with boxing, in addition to the fixing, you probably also had people starting to worry about the health effects of the head injuries, so the NFL really shouldn’t worry about the comparison.

      • Stan Gable

        Judging by what I’m reading here, I think these refs aren’t competent enough to throw a game without it being blindingly obvious.

        • Left_Wing_Fox

          The wonderful thing about incompetence is how well it masks outright malice.

          • Stan Gable

            I don’t think a referee can get away with match fixing if they’re not actually in control of the event.

            • Richard

              Much easier to fix games (or at least point spreads) in basketball than in football (especially with instant replay rules).

              • Bill Murray

                I’m not so sure, although review probably helps. Former Broncos fullback and writer/broadcaster Reggie Rivers wrote a book called 4th and Fixed that had quite a bit on how easy it is to fix games, at least by the players

  • scott

    After watching football for 30+ years, I gave up 4 years ago because the whole stop-start-stop quality of games (worsened by replay) was horrible to watch. I watch a lot of soccer now, which is refreshing because you get 2 blocks of 45 minutes of undisturbed action without a lot of huddles, replay, and other bullshit. I realize I’m part of a minority niche viewer-wise, but my experience makes me wonder if the NFL is really playing with fire. Watching sports is supposed to be fun; if it becomes tedious or even annoying, people have other options.

    • firefall

      try catching a game of rugby .. the flow of soccer and the physicality of NFL

      • Richard Hershberger

        Dude! World Cup Cricket is going on right now! (Twenty20, but you can’t have everything.) ESPN is streaming it live. Ireland vs. West Indies is on right now. They are on the innings break, with Ireland having scored 129. I expect that West Indies should be able to match that pretty handily.

    • Joe

      Soccer is a niche market (at least in the U.S.). I personally don’t find it “refreshing” to watch such undisturbed ‘action’ … I find it rather boring. To each his or her own, obviously. I’m sure soccer isn’t pure anyhow.

      Meanwhile, the players have voiced support of the refs:


      • spencer

        When did he say anything about soccer being pure?

        • Joe

          He talked about football having “bullshit” … “pure” means a lot of things, including “pure entertainment.”

          The word ‘pure’ is defined, sorry to be pedantic but the question seems to warrant it, “free from anything of a different, inferior, or contaminating kind.” I think “bullshit” would count.

          “tedious” and “annoying” probably would contaminate a sport too.

    • djw

      I gave up 4 years ago because the whole stop-start-stop quality of games (worsened by replay) was horrible to watch.

      I actually started watching football semi-regularly after a decade of more or less ignoring it when my own consumption of technology advanced to the point of regularly combining TV watching and internet surfing. I can’t really imagine watching football alone without a laptop in my lap.

      • redrob

        I used to grade papers with football on the TV. Eventually I found it too boring to distract me from grading.

  • CJColucci

    Apparently, the bookies are already adjusting their practices to take the replacement referees into account. According to Sunday’s Times, the normal 3-point home field advantage is going to become 3-1/2 points because bad referees are more influenced by the home crowd than good ones.

  • tonycpsu

    Did anyone else catch this ridiculousness during the Eagles/Cards game? (Even if you did, it’s worth clicking through for the funny facial expressions and Simpsons shout-out.)

    • Joe

      That’s great. Added benefit: Eagles lost. Their karma points were up after the last two games.

    • Patrick

      Heh. Asomugha’s smile about halfway through cracks me up. I’m not sure if it’s because of the ridiculousness of the calls or the fact that he knows the refs are about five seconds away from a walrus attack!

  • Bitter Scribe

    What the fuck is it with Goodell anyway? What is his problem? The NFL has a license to print money and he’s destroying the season, if not the game, because he wants to withhold a few nickels from the only officials in major professional sports who have to work for a living. Is he insane?

  • Monday’s game

    Seattle just faced a first and thirty-eight

    Pass interference call! Against Green Bay! When the Seattle receiver used an arm on the defender’s shoulder pad to lift himself up and catch the the ball, grabbing the defender’s facemask and twisting his head in the process.

    Gruden keeps saying the words “self-restraint” and stuff like “I done this a long time”, but Tirico’s reaction – “this does make it hard to watch, every game” – will be the Cronkite “The War is now unwinnable” moment of this whole thing, mark my words.

    • Although the penalties on Seattle leading to that 1st and 38 were also bogus.

      The terrible refs aren’t affecting any one team positively. It is just complete incompetence in each and every game, affecting both teams equally and making these games illegitimate.

      • Oh completely agree.

        My point was the Tirico stuff. Combined with yesterday, feels like an inflection point in this whole saga.

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