NFL 2012: Letter to Roger Goodell on Replacement Officials, Saints Bounty
Dear Roger Goodell,
That hypocrisy that has been your tenure as Commissioner of the NFL during the past few years has just been ridiculous. It started well, though; you pledged to help the integrity of the game while making it safer and more enjoyable for fans. That was a great start despite the constant outcry that the NFL had become too soft.
You have encouraged players to avoid hits to the head as concussions lead to devastating problems later in life. Basically all was good; you solved the lockout problem without missing any regular-season games, and the 2011 season went fairly well.
However, the start of the 2012 offseason started with some action. "Bounty Gate" was the huge scandal, and rightfully so. The idea that players would be pooling money to target and intentionally injure players is definitely against the idea of upholding player safety, and it hurts the image of the NFL.
You had a good start by assigning long suspensions (including suspending a coach for the first time ever). The entire football world agreed (except maybe New Orleans Saints fans), especially after hearing the brutal Gregg Williams audio tape.
Everything seemingly went wrong after that.
In the Kansas City Chiefs' locker room, the term "Kill the head, and the body will die" was used, and the NFL decided not to look into it. This is the same term used by Greg Williams that caused outrage. I'm not saying the Saints didn't have a bounty system, or that the Chiefs did, but the NFL should have at least looked into it.
Do you agree that the replacement officials hurt the integrity of the game?
Recently, Calvin Pace plainly stated to the media that the New York Jets' goal was to get Reggie Bush out of the game. Again this looks like a plan to injure a player, and yet the NFL has decided they won't look into the situation. You have been very hypocritical in bounty-like situations, at first giving strict punishments and then deciding to not even look into other situations.
If you're trying to help player safety, you're definitely not doing a good job.
Now comes the most important part. Prior to the beginning of the season, I wrote an article about the replacement officials and their potential impact on the season. At the time the NFL publicly endorsed the replacement officials in a decision that failed to uphold the integrity of the NFL.
The NFL should only have the best of the best out there when it comes to players, and that should hold true to referees also. The officials are an important part in keeping the players safe and enforcing penalties on illegal hits. The normal officials have been doing this for years and have seen mostly everything.
They do a good job of getting the calls right, and of keeping the game going in a timely manner. They have rarely decided a game on their own. They have never seemed like another team.
The replacement officials, however, seem like a third team that both teams have to compete with. Fans of any team are always going to argue calls, but I don't think you could find a fan of the NFL that actually thinks the replacement officials are upholding the integrity of the NFL.
In the most recent Monday Night Football game the game was decided on a very questionable end-zone reception call. Fans will debate this play for the rest of the season; personally I thought it was a tie for possession and deserved to be a touchdown in favor of the Seattle Seahawks. I am likely in the minority as many people seem to believe that Green Bay clearly should have been awarded possession.
Yet it never should have come down to this catch. Right before Golden Tate went up for the ball, he made the clearest act of offensive pass interference I've ever seen. Game over, offensive penalty, no time left on the clock, Green Bay Packers win.
But no. Even with a ref standing right there they missed the call.
Forget this game; every game seems to have more questionable calls and takes more time. Unnecessary roughness penalties aren't being called as often as they should in the cases of defenseless receivers. I just don't understand how you as a commissioner can publicly endorse these officials any longer.
We understand that you are looking for leverage with the locked-out officials, but really admit a mistake and move on. The coaches hate it, the players hate it and the fans hate it.
Up to this point your legacy has been that of pioneer in the field of helping to advance the NFL into a new era dedicated to player safety, but you have refs who don't know the rules, which in turn makes the game more dangerous for them.
It would be in not only the NFL's best interest, but also in your best interest to fix this problem. Look into possible other bounty scandals; there is no way the Saints were the only team running this system. More importantly though, let's bring back the officials that are used to being involved in NFL games. Right now it is just sickening to watch.
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