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.——————
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. Follow @KrisLBurke