Sports Briefs: Too Stressed to Ref

(Sponsored by 3 Spoons Yogurt)

Chris: Roger Goodell is employing replacement officials for only one reason: no one knows better. After all, there are no superstar referees. Fans don’t know whether the line judge is a 16-year veteran official or someone who works in a Luby’s serving line. But I’m here to prove Goodell wrong. I know lots of famous officials. There’s that muscular one, Ed Hercules; someone else who looks like Uncle Fester, although I think he’s a soccer referee; and I also remember an NBA ref whose friendship with the mafia resulted in a vacation at Sing Sing.

Joe: Replacement refs need to be replaced.

Ralphie: I don't think they're doing a very good job. They're missing a lot of easy calls, games are starting to look more like fights than ball games.

Brad: Maybe they're not used to the big spectacle that is the NFL; maybe they're under pressure because they're not “first string.”

Joe: Every facet of the game is in disarray. The players are taking advantage of it by playing dirty and illegally cause they probably won't get flagged. Strength of character of players is coming through--they're like packs of wild dogs. What a mess.

Ralphie: The players are playing kind of dirty, and the games last too long.

Chris: Goodell could clearly help the situation by sitting down with the replacement officials before each game and giving them a pep talk, reminding them that the regular officials put on their tight, black pants one leg at a time, except for the heftier officials, who require assistance from fork lifts to squeeze into los pantalones.

Ralphie: I think it's the referees' fault. They should have just been thankful for what they were making.

Brad: I blame both sides. I see how the refs who have been there forever do not want to give up what they have been used to or expect to get. However, I see how the NFL wants to reign in spending and revamp the benefit package for what is essentially a part-time, seasonal position. I will not understate the importance of a seasoned ref to make the correct calls or to watch out for player safety, but I think that the NFL is thinking correctly about pay and pension changes.

Joe: Just so everyone is clear--when a labor dispute arises and the laborers (referees) don't agree to a new contract, they get locked out by management (owners and league). When management signs a new contract with TV (as it did) for billions, it's fair to assume that one of their bargaining tools was that, with their new contract, they were going to have to raise salaries (players and referees). Management got a new TV contract but has now decided that they want to keep the money and not pay referees or keep their retirement benefits in place.

Brad: In this day and age where cities have workers, firemen, policeman, teachers, etc., agreeing to reduced pay, reduced pensions, sometimes even going without paychecks at all while budgets are pending approval, these refs need to cede to the fact that they are extremely well-compensated for what minimal work they do.

Chris: If I were one of the locked out officials, I would purchase stock in a company that produces referee stress dolls. With replacement referees doing their best to leave their imprint on each game, there is sure to be an increased demand for human sacrifice, and stress dolls are the only answer.

Ralphie: Bring back the refs!!!!

Brad: I think it definitely affects the quality of play. If the players are worrying about whether a play is going to be called fairly or not, they are not worrying about what they should be, and that's the game. Their heads need to be in the right place, so that they can play their best, but also for their own safety against stupid injuries.

Joe. Everyone should bargain in good faith and resolve the issues. Did I say "good faith" when referring to the NFL, Goodell and the owners?

Ralphie: Surely, they're ready to get back to work. Just come to an agreement so we can get back to the game.

Brad: Both sides need to compromise. The NFL needs to give the older ones a grandfathered clause, giving them what they have currently coming. The refs need to accept that, and then agree to new terms for incoming refs. If they continue to use replacements, they need to be up to par.

Chris: My dad and I both had our own Tear-Apart Stress Dolls years ago, which allowed us the freedom to express our displeasure over blown calls by violently and simultaneously ripping away the Velcroed heads and appendages from our respective dolls, rather than being forced to reach for the same doll, had their only been one. Having a head, arms and legs that were removable also allowed us creative license to sometimes place said parts where they didn’t belong. I particularly got many laughs out of seeing a referee’s head where his legs should have been, giving the impression that he was either standing on his head or about to defecate on himself.

Joe: The refs should remain strong. Don't give up on salary increase or retirement benefits. Good and experienced refs are an asset to NFL. Assets are the reason your net worth increases. Pretty simple when you unstuff the money out of your ears.

Try on a new pair of Sports Briefs with the Gab Four every Friday. Find out more about Joe, Chris, Brad and Ralphie, and read their solo columns on their individual pages.


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