I did not watch any NFL football this weekend, and I won’t any time soon. I’m a former NFL fan.
Why? Because, in my eyes, the NFL eroded its brand and tarnished its product greatly in the past week.
One week ago
It started one week ago when the Green Bay Packers (my favorite NFL team) traveled to the Seattle Seahawks on Sept. 24.
On the last play of the game, M.D. Jennings of the Packers came away with an interception, but the replacement referees on the field called it a simultaneous catch, awarding the catch to Golden Tate of the Seahawks. With the catch, Seattle won the game.
The play was controversial because it exemplified how inept the replacement referees were at times. And, without argument (I think), it cost the Packers a win.
Hurting the NFL brand
But more importantly, the botched call showed that the NFL was hurting its brand of sports entertainment by having below-standard referees on the field, showing that the outcome of the games can be decided not just by the players on the field.
And I was ready to write a blog post about how that call, and about how the replacement referees, were hurting the NFL’s brand.
But then the NFL came out with a statement Sept. 25 about the game.
In it, NFL officials said it supported the referees in not overturning the call of a simultaneous possession. Notably, however, the statement does not say whether the simultaneous possession call was correct, only that it should not have been overturned.
Quite a nuanced statement, in my eyes.
Say one thing, display another
After the game, some players were decidedly angry. They took to Twitter.
Got fucked by the refs.. Embarrassing. Thanks nfl
— TJ Lang (@TJLang70) September 25, 2012
That was arguably the most viral of all tweets about the game that night. And the NFL normally fines players for using profanity like Lang did. But on Sept. 26, the NFL decided not to fine the Packers players.
The NFL fines players when they are in the wrong. It is not hard to reach the conclusion that the NFL does not think the Packers players did anything wrong, and that they are siding with them in believing that Green Bay should have won the game.
Thus the NFL said one thing in its statement — the Seahawks won — and another in its actions — the Packers won.
And that was how the NFL tarnished its brand.
How I’ll come back
The end of the referee lockout was the biggest issue for me before Sept. 25. Reaching a conclusion to the dispute was a big step in the right direction.
It would be nice to hear the NFL apologize for its stances on the final call of the game and on not fining the Packers players for their tweets. But that won’t happen.
Instead, I will come back when NFL officials — I don’t mean the referees — are consistent in their rulings and show respect for the product and the fans, something that was quite lacking in the past week.
How do you think the NFL fared in the past week?