After Sunday's games saw the replacement referees hit rock bottom, the NFL released a statement saying, "The current officials have made great strides and are performing admirably under unprecedented scrutiny and great pressure. As we do every season, we will work to improve officiating and are confident that the game officials will show continued improvement.”
Then, somehow, the refs were even worse during the Falcons-Broncos game Monday. And afterward on the ESPN set, Steve Young waded into the debate with a whole bunch of real talk.
Stuart Scott: "The level of refereeing... Is there one word that can describe it?"
Steve Young: "Kerfuffle."
Scott: "Okay, whatever he said..."
Young: "How do I start here? I can say this because the league officials have gone to sleep. Lemme just go right at this: There's a lot of people in the league who would rather break the union. There's a lot of people who don't feel like the officiating is on-field personnel, they feel like it's a commodity. But more importantly, everything about the NFL now, it's inelastic for demand. There's nothing that they can do to hurt the demand for the game. So the bottom line is, they don't care. Player safety? Doesn't matter in this case. Bring the Division 3 officials? Doesn't matter. Because in the end, you're still gonna watch the game, we're gonna all complain and moan, and gripe and say there's all these problems, and all the coaches will say it, the players will say it... Doesn't matter. So just go ahead, gripe all you want, I'm gonna rest. Let them eat cake."
Scott: "But we're talking about the marquee game of every week..."
Young: "Doesn't matter!"
Scott: "But why doesn't it matter? Why doesn't it matter?"
Young: "Because it's inelastic. There's nothing that changes the demand for the NFL. So they want to break the union, they want to send a message to them, they don't care about player safety in the case of bringing in Division 3 officials, because it doesn't affect the desire for the game. If it affected the desire for the game, they'd come up with a few million dollars."
Young makes almost the exact argument about the NFL's priorities as the one we made Monday morning, so maybe there's bias here. But after hearing dweebs like Tony Dungy defend the replacement officials and carry water for Goodell and co., it's pretty pretty refreshing to hear an NFL Hall of Famer come out on National TV and be honest about the bottom line in all this.
Watch and enjoy: