It took the NFL years to garner the legitimacy that has made it the most popular sport in America. It is a driving force in the culture of our country. On this Monday night, it was no more believable than WWE's Monday Night Raw. Every day that passes without a deal is a further erosion of trust between the NFL and its fan base, which is decreasing by the day.
The NFL has never needed credibility. Generating over nine billion dollars a year, they are most definitely not in a financial struggle. The stars of the NFL shine brighter than those of any other professional sport. The reigning MVP of the league just played on ESPN's Monday Night Football and not a single soul in the sports world is talking about him. They are not talking about the Green Bay Packers or the Seahawks. Not a word about Rodgers, Matthews, or Seattle's eight first-half sacks.
The only thing that is being talked about is the fact that there are seven officials that just decided a football game. There were 60 minutes of football that were played in Seattle on Monday that proved useless. The biggest play of the night came from the sideline. This came from officials that were in charge of calling Division III football games at this time last year. Men who had never called a game at a Division I level are now in charge of keeping up with a game that is too fast for them and too complicated for them. The men in charge of calling NFL games were not able to call a Kent State game last year. The very root of this problem is the fact that these incompetent men are being supported and shown mercy by a league that is supposedly all about protecting their own brand. Saying that these officials are doing anything but corrupting the integrity of the league is an embarrassing lie on behalf of the league.
Player safety has long been the priority since Roger Goodell took office as commissioner of the NFL and he has taken swift and serious action against those who threaten it. It is now time to take a look in the mirror. Watch a game and look at all the penalties that are being called. There were a combined 48 penalties called between Sunday's Patriots-Ravens game and Monday's Packers-Seahawks game. You would no more ask these officials to call an NFL game than you would ask your four-month-old to drive home from the grocery store. Not only is the incompetence of the referees damaging the integrity of the calls made, but the games have a different feel. It looks less and less like the NFL that has drawn the highest ratings in the history of any professional sport. Teams are intentionally pushing boundaries in order to see how much they can take advantage of the referees. There have been egregious errors committed for the past three weeks. The situation is getting to the point where you simply wonder what it will take to get something accomplished.
The NFL has publicly stated that they will not budge. They are adamant that they have made their final offer and will not include a pension plan in the referees new deal. Without allowing these pension plans, the new referees are simply going to continue to ruin football games. The NFL that men like Art Rooney, John Mara, and Robert Kraft have grown to prominence is crumbling under Roger Goodell and owners who are ignoring a vital part of the system that has put money in their pockets. If this night is any indication, the ball is in the NFL's court. It is up to them to show that the integrity of the league is still a concern.