Replacement NFL referee Richard Simmons breaks up an altercation between the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers after the game. (photo: Steven Bisig/US Presswire)
Wisconsin's union-busting hero Governor Scott Walker can list among his accomplishments laying the groundwork for Monday night's debacle in Seattle that cost Wisconsin's beloved Green Bay Packers a hard-fought win they rightly deserved. Not to mention professional football its credibility.
There is no strike, the NFL referees are not striking. The NFL players did not strike last year, and NBA players didn't either. All three conflicts were, "lockouts" orchestrated by the team owners. The owners decided they did not like the contracts they had signed, simply tore them up and locked the door.
All three conflicts are part of a far larger war on unions by American business owners and the government officials who serve them. Scott Walker's initiatives in Wisconsin to weaken public service unions and humble their members are an inspiration to big American interests. They believe as Walker believes that the time is now to save America by destroying unions, or at least pad their bottom lines failing that.
What is at issue in this latest big-sports owner lockout is pensions. The team owners want to alter and reduce the pension packages they agreed to in their contract negotiations with the NFL Referees Association, (NFLRA). The refs have thrown a flag and a fight has broken out. More importantly, the owners barred the veteran referees from working and are withholding their paychecks.
Bring in the replacement referees, (Scabs).
Think workers have no value, think anyone can do any job, think experience doesn't matter? Ask the Green Bay Packers or the Detroit Lions or any head coach or player in the NFL; they'll break it down for you. American workers have value. The NFL like all American businesses (whether they know it or not) was built on the backs of workers. The workers are the process, and in the case of the NFL, the fans and customers as well.
Out the Window With Gruden
The color announcer for ESPN's Monday night broadcast was former NFL head coach Jon Gruden. At a point in the 4th quarter, even before the climactic melt-down on the game's last play, Gruden said in utter frustration, "I feel like jumping out of this broadcast booth." Maybe the time has come for the NFL's taken-for-granted fans to go out the window with Gruden. Right now NFL has as much credibility as Saturday Night Wrestling.
But the bigger question is will Gruden or any of the other high profile sports figures speaking out against the NFL stand in solidarity with Chicago's teachers, Wisconsin's public service employees, the nation's airline pilots or any of the millions of dedicated employees caught up in the union purges of Walker and his ilk?
We're in the 4th quarter and the game is on the line.