“Worst. Call. Ever.” Great quote from one of my buddies on Facebook, of course referring to the now infamous call at the end of the Monday Night Football game featuring the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers. It really was…for those of you that don’t know, basically, the Packers cornerback, M.D. Jennings, intercepted a hail Mary pass from Seahawks QB Russell Wilson, but receiver Golden Tate (after committing offensive pass interference) put his hands on the ball as he and Jennings fell to the ground. Two replacement officials converged on the scene, one signaling an interception, and the other raising his hands into the air: TOUCHDOWN!
The Seahawk fans went crazy. Then, the replay was reviewed, and astoundingly, the touchdown call was confirmed, perhaps only because the head ref knew that a reversal could result in an instantaneous death at the hands of 800,000 drunken revelers certain that their team had won. From that point on, everyone and their mother has registered an opinion on the matter, and 95% of them look something like this:
1) It was a horrible, game deciding call, in which the team that should have won lost, and it never would have happened if regular NFL Officials had been calling the game.
2) The NFL should be embarrassed and ashamed for locking them out and jeopardizing the integrity of the sport and the brand, especially for the tiny percentage of revenue that they are squabbling about with the NFL Referees Association.
I couldn’t agree more, and I’m not surprised that this is just about all anyone cares to talk about, whether it’s at work, on the internet, or in media. People should be absolutely outraged—it’s a travesty—especially for a sport that is such a huge part of our national social fabric. But if you’re pissed off at the NFL, Roger Goodell, and the owners, then you should be absolutely furious with the Republican Party, because what we’ve seen happen to the NFL in the wake of the referee lockout, is almost exactly the same thing that’s happened to our national government.
The most common criticism of the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell on this issue is that they’ve been unwilling to concede anything to the NFL Referees Association in negotiating a new contract. Instead, they decided to play hardball—the old, “it’s my way or the highway, take it or leave it, I won’t budge.” In some senses, it’s almost seemed as a fan that the NFL locked out the refs not because they had to, but because they wanted to; one article I read quoted an unnamed owner, who said, in “disdain” of the NFL referees, “they think we can’t play without them.” Well, we’re playing without them: last night it cost Green Bay a win, and the league its integrity.
In essence, the tack that’s been taken by the NFL Owners and Goodell on this issue is exactly the same as Republicans when it comes to dealing with President Obama and the Democrats in Congress. No deals. No compromise. Not even if it’s in the best interests of the country. No, no, no, no, no. No deal on the debt limit, even if Obama offers spending cuts to revenue increases at a 5 to 1 ratio. No willingness to pass the American Jobs Act, which economists estimate would create at least 2 million jobs. No deal even on the farm bill, which was passed with huge bipartisan support in the Senate; all the Republican controlled House needed to do was bring that bill up for a vote and pass it, but no, instead they’re going home to campaign. And because of this stubbornness on the part of one party, nothing gets done in Washington, even while there is massive agreement among the American people on issues from tax reform to deficit reduction to infrastructure investments.
The end result is that people don’t trust the government, and Congress’s approval is historically low. The brand of our government suffers with Republican obstructionism, even as the brand of the NFL suffers due to the owner’s fight with the referees.
What’s worse is that it’s not just the brand that we have to worry about—it’s the results. Green Bay lost last night because of a bad call that is ultimately the culmination of this debacle, just as our economy and society loses because Republicans are unwilling to work with Democrats to solve our problems.
I’m pissed about last night’s MNF game, and I don’t even like the Packers—I would much rather see the Seahawks win. But if games are won and lost on the basis of avoidable incompetence, at some point the results cease to matter—and people are right to be angry. What I don’t understand is why the Republican honks calling into sports talk radio are so outraged about a blown call in a football game, which they deem as avoidable and immoral, but aren’t the least bit angry at their party for doing the exact same thing to our country?
It’s all true: Roger Goodell and the NFL owners look like idiots because of their unwillingness to bargain with the NFL Officials, and last night’s travesty rests squarely on their shoulders. But anyone pissed that Green Bay got jobbed last night should be furious with the Republican Party, because every time they vote no, every time they refuse to deal, every time they’re unwilling to compromise, our country loses, and the integrity of our government is called into question.