First the big news you’ve already heard: The NFL and its Referees Association reached an agreement late Wednesday, and the 120 “certified” referees were back on the gridiron to officiate last night’s Browns-Ravens game.
We won’t go into the details of the contract, which involves freezing pension plans after 2016 and offering specific retirement benefits to all officials starting in 2017. Both sides apparently “conceded ground”, but we’ll get to the heart of the matter: Fans will gladly say goodbye and good riddance to the hated “replacement” refs—and we have no doubt that the NFL is happy to have resolved the issue as well.
Now it’s time for damage control—and Roger Goodell appears to be going all out.
On a conference call yesterday, the NFL Commissioner said he was “…sorry to have to put our fans through that”. He followed up today with a formal email message to all fans on the NFL’s mailing list.
Forbes notes that it’s “not an apology”, and it’s true that Goodell only expresses “regret”. He doesn’t mention the universally panned calls that ended the Packers-Seahawks game, and he even goes so far as to “commend the replacement officials for taking on an unenviable task and doing it with focus and dedication in the most adverse of circumstances.”
Hmm…call us crazy, but we don’t think many of the fans Goodell is targeting with this letter will appreciate that sentiment.
We’ve reprinted the full text below: