Maybe the next time Roger Goodell starts expounding on The Shield, or the importance of The Shield, or the integrity of The Shield, someone should remind him of the rank hypocrisy of that term – at least as long as the NFL’s officials remained locked out.
Awash in cash and ratings, unchallenged as the premier professional sport in America, able to do whatever it wants to gouge and rip off its compliant fans and complacent media, the NFL thought it could get away with amateurs in the stripes.
Then came two weeks of games awash in yellow flags, blown calls, changed calls, more yellow flags, interminable discussions by the makeshift crews about those yellow flags, commentators pulling out their hair, more yellow flags – it was a travesty of a sham of a mockery, Woody Allen-style.
And that was before the infamy of Monday night in Seattle.
The last play seemed pretty clear. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson threw it into the end zone. Green Bay Packers defensive back M.D. Jennings, amid a crowd of players, snagged the ball and held on to it despite receiver Golden Tate’s attempts to wrest it from him on the ground.
Naturally it was called a touchdown.
Inside and outside the Packers locker room, the incredulity overflowed. Diatribes by the analysts, muted diatribes from Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers, Tweets from the Green Bay players that were NSFW, Tweets from others that matched the outrage, and jokes on Twitter about things that were better than the replacement refs, like Nickelback, the Twilight series and Honey Boo Boo.
Somewhere on his throne, Goodell had to love all this. After all, the whole concept of no such thing as bad publicity was kicking in, big-time.
Well, to channel my inner Dylan, how does it feel, Roger? How does it feel, to be on your own?