The NFL and its regular refs are meeting again, trying to find a deal that will bring 'em back.
A sticking point now: The league wants backup refs so they can replace the bad ones. The union refs don't, and I thought it was all about the integrity of the game.
That's what I've been hearing all day, anyway, since the game in Seattle on Monday night.
With the Packers up by 7... the last play of the game... a throw into the end zone... pass interference not called (like it's usually not)... and the refs say the catch was a tie.
Tie goes to the receiver; Seattle wins.
The league says:
"The NFL Officiating Department reviewed the video today and supports the decision not to overturn the on-field ruling following the instant replay review."
The result of the game is final.
So many arguments about that play, and I'm one of the very few in America who think the refs got it right. And at the very least, if they didn't, there's nothing to prove that it wasn't the right call.
Now there's no question Seattle's Golden Tate should have been called for pass interference, but I've been watching this game a long time. I've seen a hundred throws into the end zone at the end of a game, and I've never seen pass interference called... and I'm pretty sure somebody got shoved along the way.
My favorite part of this argument is that more than a dozen people who have seen the play several times say Tate didn't get both hands on the ball until they hit the ground, and there's the proof that he did (on a replay view).
I think the problem is simply this: There is a bias against replacement refs in the NFL.
They miss the pass interference call, and that carries over to the argument about the catch.
Now I know I'm almost alone here, but I've been alone before.
It's a heavy burden I bear.
Former Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman says NFL games are a joke now, but when we're talking about the NFL, who are you really gonna believe... Aikman, or me?
One of my favorite guys in the Channel 8 Sports Department says to me, "Why can't the NFL... that makes billions of dollars... pay the regular refs the salary they want?"
I think he was serious, but greed at the corporate level in America is a good thing... and why would anyone think that we should take money from the men who are the job creators and give it to the people who have less?
That's simply a re-distribution of the wealth, and it's socialism that smacks of communism, and we're a better people than that.
If these NFL refs don't have enough to live on, then maybe they should try harder... maybe they should work harder... and earn enough money to buy their own NFL team... and then make their own rules.
Someone has to protect our children's future, and I worry about the Jones children every day.
A Cowboys fan writes me saying, "The league should be ashamed of a product that uses replacement refs."
How can you shame a league that, in 1987, used replacement players? They charged the full price for tickets then (just like they do for preseason games now), and in 1987 more than 60,000 of you showed up to watch replacement players.
And you think the NFL should be ashamed now?
I don't understand a league that says we need instant replay to protect us against the occasional human error, and that same league says "not for pass interference" — the single most game-changing and hardest call to make in a game.
But something else I don't understand: Why are the refs — regular or replacement refs — the only ones not allowed (or expected) to make a mistake?
Coaches and owners who make millions... players who make several million... make mistakes every game. I know some players who can't count to three (and can't count to three more than once).
Philanthropist George Soros said, "Once we realize that imperfect understanding is the human condition, there is no shame in being wrong — only in failing to correct our mistakes."
And in this latest dispute over money, everybody on both sides is making one.