I’ve said a time or two in recent weeks that only Congress could pressure the NFL to end its lockout of game officials. Now that the blunders of the replacement officials have risen to the level of national, non-sports news, Congress could be more inclined to hold a hearing and/or launch an investigation.
Especially since the President has taken notice. In addition to his Tuesday tweet, Barack Obama said of the situation this afternoon (via John Ourand of SportsBusiness Journal): “Terrible. I’ve been saying for months, we’ve gotta get our refs back.”
Those of you clamoring for an end to the lockout likely would respond to the possibility of Congressional intervention by once again shouting, “Don’t they have better things to do?” And, for once, they do have something better to do. Every member of the House of Representatives and plenty members of the Senate are facing re-election in six weeks.
So don’t count on Congress getting involved — at least until after Election Day.
And without Congress inclined to rattled swords and/or threaten antitrust exemptions, don’t count on the NFL giving in. Peter King of SI.com explains that the NFL will hold firm, weathering whatever short-term storms may come in the hopes of getting what the NFL wants from its officials, including a bench of potential in-season understudies who can replace those who may need to be yanked from service for performing the way the officials performed last night.
But this may not be a storm the NFL can weather. Especially if the replacements continue to perform like they have in recent weeks.