September 24, 2012: The Day The NFL Died

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RIP NFL: 1921-2012

My friends, we gather today to mourn the passing of a close friend.

It was a friend that many almost considered a big brother.  It was a close friend of millions of people in multiple countries around the world.   While it was a product of the United States, it transcended nationality.  It truly was a universal language.

Of course, it had its flaws.  Nothing and no one on this earth is perfect.  We accepted those flaws and figured that those in charge of its caretaking would always keep its best interests at heart when trying to fix those flaws as well as any other urgent need that would arise.

Sadly, around four weeks ago, many of us saw trouble ahead for our dear National Football League.  The regular officials were locked out by the league under the leadership of Commissioner Roger Goodell.  We were told a deal would be coming and that the replacement officials would not be used more than a couple of weeks.

So the games went on and we as fans continued to watch.   As the young season progressed, warning signs began to emerge. Players were taking blows to the head and defenders were not being flagged for it, despite the NFL allegedly cracking down on such hits.  Holding and blatant pass interference ignored, giving quarterbacks a kicking ball, forgetting which teams are playing (“Holding, number 93 red”), awarding extra yardage and timeouts….the list goes on.

Finally, this past Monday night the fatal blow came and personally it hurt more than any of the other botched calls because it cost my beloved Green Bay Packers a game.  M.D. Jennings clearly had the ball on the final Hail Mary and Golden Tate only had one arm on it after throwing Sam Shields to the ground in yet another blatant pass interference non-call.

Chaos ensued as one official signaled for a touchdown and the other signaled a touchback.  The subsequent review somehow confirmed the ruling.  The official in the booth was a full time NFL employee and he got it wrong, probably to save his league more embarrassment.  It’s a shame.

Commissioner Goodell has always said he puts the integrity of the NFL above all else.  He said it last year when the players were locked out and he repeated the same thing this year with the referee lockout.  You know what defines someone as insane? Repeating a lie or fantasy so much that the person becomes convinced that it is real.

That’s the only possible reason that the league has not made a deal with the officials in this lockout.  Roger Goodell has gone insane or at least become very deranged.  I’ve stood by Goodell as he cracked down on boneheaded off-field behavior by players and worked to make the game safer by punishing those intentionally trying to injure a player.  I even backed him in the Bountygate scandal with the New Orleans Saints this past offseason.

No more. The greed of Goodell has killed the National Football League.

Yes I used the past tense.  This past Monday night, the NFL died.  It was a death without honor or dignity.

When someone dies, we usually say “they have gone on to a better place.”

Can we same the same thing about the NFL? No.

The NFL has gone to a much worse place.  The interests of the fans and players are being raped in the name of making a dollar for the owners.   Goodell and the owners do not care about player safety or the integrity of the league.  The care only about the dollar and the disease that is greed killed the game.

Death in this case, however, is not permanent. The NFL can rise again.  Bring back the officials, apologize to the fans (although reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers already had the courage to do so, unlike the cowardly commissioner) and fix this mess.   If the Packers end up missing the playoffs by one game this year, Goodell should never ever set foot again in the state of Wisconsin.

The officials may be close to a new deal if recent reports are to be believed, but the damaged has been done.  The lockout cost the Packers a game and it never ever should have come to this point.

Unfortunately, the rest of the world seems to have bowed down to the mighty NFL and there is no quality programming on television during the 11am-10 pm (ET) hours because the ratings will be impossible to get.

This weekend, I will be in Green Bay gathering with fans for Throwback Weekend. I am not sure if I will stay up there Sunday to watch the game at the bar or if I will head home and listen to some music instead of the game.

For the first time in my life I can realistically see myself living and being happy without football in my life. I thought my anger would dissipate but it hasn’t.  What the league does over the next few weeks will determine whether or not I divorce myself from the NFL.

In the meantime, Go Pack Go.

For fans of the other 31 teams that are calling us “crybabies,” how would you react if this had happened to you? Do you not love the game as well as your team? Stand up and fight.  Call your team and make sure the owner says “ENOUGH!” Thankfully, the Packers have more than one owner.  A couple hundred thousand, in fact.

It happened to us and it is going to happen to you unless something is done. Stop mocking us. JOIN us. Help us save the game we used to love.

To the other 31 teams in the league, may God have mercy on your soul.  A fire has been lit beneath the Green Bay Packers and nothing is going to stop them.

To the Packers, thank you for exhibiting so much class after the most heartbreaking of defeats. Mike McCarthy and Rodgers both exemplify the most true values of sportsmanship and do the shield proud, unlike the commissioner.  Going forward, there is only one acceptable outcome to this season.  It’s the same as when the season began.  Go to New Orleans and win that Lombardi Trophy.  This is the best way to stick it to Goodell. Failure is not an option.

Your fans are with you.  Go Pack Go.

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Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com.

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  • PackersRS

    You know, this issue has been happening with soccer forever. Here in Brazil, the refs have zero credibility, and constantly costs teams games. Every week there’s a game result that was changed because of the refs. And nothing is done.

    It speaks volumes about the quality of the product and the quality of it’s audience that as soon as a game’s result is altered by the referees, outrage erupts.

    It’s a big reason why I love the NFL, moreso than soccer, because of it’s credibility. The owners are idiots for making it reach this point, evidenced by the recent attempts at negotiations.

    If the NFL’s credibility ever reaches the same point as soccer, they’ll lose millions of viewers, not on the US, but worldwide. Fact is it’s only played in the US, and requires quite a bit of investment to be played, contrary to soccer that only needs something that looks like a ball and a couple of marks for posts.

  • Packeye

    Disgusted, outraged, heartbroken…a few of the emotions I felt after the zebras gifted the win to Seattle. The call was bad enough, but the reaction by Seattle’s staff and players was just as bad. To celebrate that victory shows little to no class on their part. The obvious is just too blatant, and they are all part of the mockery.

    As a fellow owner, I’m compelled to stand up and do something. But, in all honesty, what can a group of owners do? Petitions and online rants really aren’t enough. If the almighty dollar is what is standing in the way, could we (or should we) try to raise the necessary funds? If the players join up, we might get this thing licked!

  • aaronqb

    The NFL died a while ago, we just didn’t realize it. During the player lockout and Bountygate the NFL kept telling the fans that it was all about the integrity of the game.

    We all now know that none of this was true. The replacement ref fiasco proves NFL is just like any other big business and doesn’t give a damn about the integrity of the game. They put a substandard product on the field and they knew it.

    We, the fans, are to blame – I’m pointing my finger at myself. We get so emotionally invested in the game that we continue to spend our time and dollars on a game that lacks integrity.

  • ZeroTolerance

    When is chicken-shit Goodell going to come out in public and take questions, and keep taking them along with an apology?

  • Turophile

    Rumours of the NFLs demise may be exaggerated. Looks like a deal between owners and refs is very close.

    • aaronqb

      Doesn’t change my opinion of the matter. The integrity of the NFL has still been compromised. The NFL knowingly put a sub-standard product on the field and out of the other side of its mouth said this regarding bounties (this is verbatim from Roger Goodell’s letter):

      It is our job to protect, preserve, and promote the game of football that we all love.

      Does anybody really think the lockout would be coming to a close were it not for the Monday Night game?

  • Rob

    This just in: After further review by the NFL, Packers #37 Sam Shields has just been called for Defensive Pass Interference on Golden Tate.

    When it rains, it pours. Guess that’s what they mean by a “Golden Shower”.

    • I bleed green more

      Been watching Packer football for 57 yrs, that was blatant offensive pass interference plain and simple.