Monday nights’ debacle at the end of the game in Seattle should be the last straw for the NFL in its contract fight against its regular officials.   But it probably won’t be.  As a result this silly lockout looks more foolish every day, and the fans must share in the blame.

NFL union officials and players have it wrong when they say player safety is at stake with the NFL’s use of inexperienced replacement officials. What’s really at stake is the integrity of the game.

What happens next is up to the owners and Commissioner Roger Goodell.

He can end this lockout immediately if he wants.  Or he can continue to preside over this charade.

Making things all the more absurd is the fact that this labor dispute is over so little money and so few officials.

Some reports suggest the financial aspect of the dispute between the league and its 140 or so regular officials involves just $16 million over 5 years.  This amounts to a total of only $500,000, per team, or $100,000, per team, per year.   That is virtually pennies compared to overall team and league revenues totaling many billions.

I first wrote about the lockout almost a month ago, while the preseason was still going on, thinking that common sense would ultimately prevail, and the league would see the light and resolve the differences with the regular officials.

Obviously I was wrong.  Like Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young said last week, the NFL just “doesn’t care.”

When will it end?

The simple answer is: It will end when the NFL wants it to end.  It could also end when players who say they are concerned about safety refuse to play.

It will end when foolishly selfish owners open their eyes to actually see the damage they’ve done to the integrity of America’s most popular sport.

It will end when fans, whose blind loyalty to their teams and the league, stop attending and watching these games.

But the NFL is confident that won’t happen because the commissioner and the owners know with certainty that the fans will accept just about anything to have their precious games on Sunday.

Remember the pathetic replacement players 25 years ago?  The fans watched those games in record numbers too.


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