Jerry Markbreit, the only man to referee four Super Bowls, has emerged as one of the harshest critics of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in the lockout of the league’s officials. And as the lockout wears on, Markbreit’s criticism is growing more pronounced.
Markbreit told USA Today that he thinks the only explanation for the league’s failure to end the lockout, three weeks into the regular season, is that they simply don’t care.
“These replacements miss a roughing the passer and it’s not called, the guy is going to come in and do the same thing to him again because he knows there is no penalty,” Markbreit said. “Commissioner Roger Goodell and [league counsel] Jeff Pash, who met with some of our negotiating guys for two days this week, accomplished nothing and now no new meetings are planned. It’s incredible they could jeopardize the safety and integrity of the league. My only conclusion is that they just don’t care.”
Saying Goodell doesn’t care about safety and the integrity of the game is an overstatement. It is fair to say, however, that Goodell and the owners care more about saving money than they care about having the best officials on the field.
On the other hand, the officials really are asking for an awful lot of money for a part-time job. How many people do you know who get paid six-figure salaries plus tens of thousands of dollars a year in pension contributions for a part-time job? It’s easy to see why the owners want to rein in those costs.
And so we’re stuck with the replacement officials, and left hoping the lockout ends without the replacements screwing up too many more big calls.