HomeSportsLow morale, confusion among officials is a symptom, not the disease

Low morale, confusion among officials is a symptom, not the disease

NFL officials have been a problem for years. The NFL continues to deny this.

The problem is money. As former Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino told #PFTPM several years ago, the league does not properly value the job he held. It’s a tactful way of saying the competition is cheap.

And if the competition is cheap when it comes to the person in charge, it’s fair to conclude that the competition is cheap when it comes to the rest of the leadership.

Why are civil servants not full-time employees? Because the league should pay them a lot more than they are currently being paid. Period of time.

It’s thankless work. The gratitude comes from the income. The commissioner gets paid as much as he does, in part because he is a pincushion for the oligarchs lurking behind the curtain. During the football season, the referees also become the target of scrutiny. Paying them more money would make it easier to keep their heads down and their mouths shut while their names are dragged through the mud and muck of anti-social media, and beyond.

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As a result, there is nothing left a recent feature from Kalyn Kahler of TheAthletic.com that is or should be surprising. It’s great information, a revealing look at how cheap the people doing the work are. But it’s a symptom, not the disease.

The disease is greed, plain and simple. The NFL — which 12 years ago loudly insisted that replacement officials would do just as good a job as ostracized officials who dared to ask for more — doesn’t see the connection between paying more money for their positions and getting tangible value in return before that.

It’s the same mentality that has seen them reduce NFL Network to old games and Zoom-based shows that don’t require the expense of a studio. Huge income doesn’t matter. Money is being pinched wherever and however.

The NFL is currently dangling the shiny object of a long-awaited (but still far-too-cautious) embrace of technology to distract from its management woes. That’s how the commissioner shrugged off the issue when he appeared on Pat McAfee’s show on Friday of draft week, pointing out that people complain about the full-time officials in basketball and hockey.

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This ignores the fundamental fact that the complaints would be less credible to the NFL if the NFL did everything it could to improve and strengthen the civil service. Full-time civil servants. Complete and total transparency, UFL style.

The association refuses to acknowledge that the fears expressed by the commissioner when they hated gambling have become reality now that they are in bed with the sports books.

From 2012: “If gambling is freely allowed at sporting events, normal incidents of the game such as bad snaps, missed passes, turnovers, penalties and play calling will inevitably fuel speculation, distrust and accusations of point-shaving or game-fixing..”

More and more fans are attributing “normal play incidents” to foul play. The NFL’s biggest current challenge, even if it won’t admit it, is spending the money necessary to create an environment where fans view questionable calls as “normal incidents in the game,” not “this game is forged’.

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The change will come after the first major NFL controversy in the era of legalized sports betting. Until this is the case, the league will continue to line its pockets with cash while refusing to spend what is necessary to prevent that controversy from ever arising.

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