September 23, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey (85) is carted off the field after taking a hit from the Pittsburgh Steelers during the fourth quarter at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-US PRESSWIRE

The "Hail Scary" Aftermath: Can Roger Goodell Survive?

Like it or not, the replacement (or “Scab”) officials served a purpose. Like real scabs, they covered and protected an open wound, even if they looked ugly in doing so.

The wound was torn open for the entire world to see on this past Monday Night as they just handed a ball game to the Seattle Seahawks…not making the offensive pass interference call, and then blowing the so-called TD reception call. That play could only be called “simultaneous possession” if you consider the defender catching both the ball and the receivers limp arm at the same time. It was an obvious interception, blown call, and snatched defeat for the Packers from the jaws of victory.

The outrage soon followed from fans (except of course Seahawks fans) as well as all the sports talk shows. The disparity between the NFL officials and the scabs grew more and more apparent each week until it culminated on Monday Night.

It also forced the NFL’s hand, despite the lies from Roger Goodell to the contrary.

Sure, the NFL and NFLRA had been meeting…for 6 hours one day, 8 another, but that became a 17-hr meeting Tuesday ending in an agreement.

Without getting too much into the minutiae of the agreement, it made the NFL realize they had no choice but to actually compromise. When they locked out the NFLPA, the owners had the leverage largely due to the soft economy and NFL attendance decreasing overall after a record-setting 2007 season.

The league tried the same “my way or the highway” strategy in dealing with the officials, but after the “Hail Scary” in Seattle, fan outrage and subsequent league image problem, Goodell had to have realized any public goodwill they may have had just ran out with that play.

Goodell is above all a politician and no matter your political affiliation, you can’t trust anything those guys say. I’ve always said “Watch what they DO, NOT what they SAY.”

Goodell’s “player safety-first” mantra he had been putting out there was about to become a laughing stock…especially after Oakland WR Darrius Heyward-Bey got knocked out in the end zone the previous day in a hit where any one of several calls could have been made.

Shot to the head? Guilty. Launching? Guilty. Hitting a defenseless player? Ditto. DHB laid unconscious for a moment and has no memory of the play at all.

There was no flag.

Had the NFL and Roger Goodell continued to insist upon changing everything from defined-benefit to defined-contribution style pensions, we’d still be in a deadlock. Well, they still tried. The NFLRA isn’t stupid; they knew the pendulum was swinging their way and insisted on a compromise before signing an 8-year agreement. They saw the public outrage and knew it gave them political leverage – especially after Goodell had been spewing his “player safety is paramount” nonsense.

It is, always has been, and always will be about money as far as the NFL is concerned. The players want safety to be important even more than some NFL bureaucrats and attorneys do. The league office spent the first month in spin mode; the players know their future health was at stake and that money, while important, wasn’t their only concern.

What does all this mean for the relationship between the league, Roger Goodell, and the players?

I don’t think the players trust Goodell at all. At least not the ones who’ve been playing the least bit of attention to things. He’s got two strikes lockouts against him already, while reciting the “player safety” mantra the whole time. Playing politics. Spin mode. The career politician telling the public what he thinks they want to hear.

The problem for Goodell is nobody is that stupid. NFL Commissioners seem to have “tenure” but it is my feeling that Goodell has lost a lot of leverage himself, going forward, because of the way he’s handled things in two huge labor disputes now. Being a Presidential election year only heightens awareness of the politispeak, the spin, and the outright lies.

Roger’s nose is growing.

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Tags: Replacement Officials Roger Goodell

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