(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren via espn.com)
After being on the losing-end of quite possibly the worst call in professional football history (and certainly the most scrutinized), Packers QB Aaron Rodgers stepped up to the mic on his weekly ESPN Radio show yesterday, where he calmly and clearly stated exactly what needed to be said about the NFL and their ongoing labor dispute with the referees.
Rodgers went on a tirade about the overall stance the NFL has taken in all this, later digging into their convoluted statement about the “Innacurate Reception”, and did so with unprecedented candor from an all-pro player (who have all been warned against speaking out against the refs. He even went so far as to apologize to the fans on behalf of the players, noting that the NFL would never do such a thing. And while Rodgers can most certainly expect a fine from Mr. Goodell, if finally having a marquis player step up and make a statement like this forces the league to take a long hard look at itself, then it will all be more than worth it.
You can listen to the whole thing for yourselves HERE, but these are the key excerpts:
“Some stuff just needs to be said,” Rodgers said. “First of all, I’ve got to do something that the NFL is not going to do, and I have to apologize to the fans. Our sport is generated, the multi-billion machine, is generated by people who pay good money to come watch us play. And the product on the field is not being complemented by an appropriate set of officials. The games are getting out of control.
“Like I said in the first week, I said, ‘I’m OK with replacement refs as long as they don’t have a direct impact on the game.’ Obviously last night there was a direct impact on the game on multiple plays that we’ll get into. But my thing is I just feel bad for the fans. Because they’re pay good money to watch this. The game is being tarnished by an NFL that obviously cares more about saving some money than having the integrity of the game diminished a little bit.“
Rodgers went on to point out that this is a league who had previously locked out the players, and are now gambling on low-level officials who are in way over their heads.
“This is a multi-billion dollar operation against 16 to 17 crews of seven to eight of 35- to 50-year-old guys who want a little insurance on the back end, want to be taken care of for the job that they do, believe that their job is an important part of that shield, the NFL brand.
“It’s obvious now more than ever – not just our game … but ours probably a little more than others – it’s obvious the stance the NFL has taken.”
In light of the events on MNF and the subsequent national meltdown, its clear that the players have finally reached their breaking point in this dispute . Let’s hope that some of this finally breaks through to the NFL, and the two sides will be able to reach a settlement this week so we can get back to talking about the actual play on the field.