Friday, September 28, 2012

Final Score: Cry Me a River - The Beginning of the Roger Goodell Apology Tour

Earlier today, Roger Goodell released an open letter to fans regarding the replacement referees:

To NFL Fans:
The National Football League is at its best when the focus is on the players and the action on the field, not on labor negotiations.
All of us who love the sport appreciate the skills and dedication of the players and coaches. That is why we are focused not just on what happens on the field but what our game will be like in another decade or two. The NFL has always tried to look ahead, to innovate, and to constantly improve in all we do.
We recognize that some decisions may be difficult to accept in the passion of the moment, but my most important responsibility is to improve the game for this generation and the next.
I believe in accountability, not excuses. And I regret we were not able to secure an agreement sooner in the process and avoid the unfortunate distractions to the game. You deserve better.
As a lifelong fan, this wasn’t an easy process for anyone involved. I particularly want to commend the replacement officials for taking on an unenviable task and doing it with focus and dedication in the most adverse of circumstances.
Our new agreement gives long-term stability to an important aspect of our game, officiating. More important, with this agreement, officiating will be better in the long run. While the financial issues received the most attention, these negotiations were much more about long-term reforms. For example, beginning with the 2013 season, the NFL will have the option of hiring a number of officials on a full-time basis to work year-round, including on the field. In addition, the NFL will have the option to retain additional officials for training and development purposes, and may assign those additional officials to work NFL games.
We are moving forward with the finest officials in sports back on the field. It’s time to put the focus where it belongs — on the clubs and players and our magnificent game, with a special thanks to our fans for their passion.
- Roger Goodell
We do deserve better. But "regretting" not having an agreement in place is not going give the Packers the win they earned. It's not going to make up for any of the terrible calls from the last few weeks. To be sure, the regular referees will make bad calls in the future, but having incompetent replacement refs for games that matter was irresponsible.

This might not be the only time Goodell may apologize this season. According to CBSSports, he met with Scott Fujita today in the final individual meeting with the players accused in the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal after an appeals panel "ruled Goodell must redefine the parameters of the suspensions, showing they were for an intent-to-injure program." If Goodell cannot show enough evidence to prove this, another apology letter will have to be written. Regardless of the outcome, expect to see more players challenge Goodell in the future as the hits on his credibility continue to pile up.

Picks for Week 4
Each week, I will pick three games in addition to the Chicago Bears and the Kansas City Chiefs (girlfriend grew up in KC) matchups.

San Diego (2-1, 1-0 away) @ Kansas City (1-2, 0-1 home): Jamaal Charles looked great last week, and he hopes to string together two strong performances. Philip Rivers will look for a bounce-back week, but the Charges have lost the last two in KC. Just like last week, I see a Chiefs upset. Kansas City 24, San Diego 20.

Minnesota (2-1, 0-1 away) at Detroit (1-2, 1-0 home): Christian Ponder looked great for the Vikings last week in a very impressive win over the 49ers. It sounds like Matthew Stafford will be able to play on Sunday, and they'll need him and a victory to stay afloat in a tough NFC North. I think Detroit will shake off last week's heartbreaker. Detroit 31, Minnesota 17.

New Orleans (0-3, 0-1 away) at Green Bay (1-2, 1-1 home): The Packers are coming off a short week filled with controversy, and the Saints are playing to save their season. New Orleans defense is awful, and Green Bay is averaging 19.0 points per game after playing three very good defenses in San Francisco, Chicago, and Seattle. Green Bay 35, New Orleans 21.

New York Giants (2-1, 1-0 away) at Philadelphia (2-1, 1-0 home): Philadelphia leads the league in turnovers, and Jay Cutler is not their quarterback. The Giants have some injury concerns, but that didn't stop them from destroying Carolina on the road last week. I expect a close one only because I believe that Michael Vick will play more like himself and less like Rex Grossman. New York Giants 27, Philadelphia 24.

Chicago (2-1, 0-1 away) at Dallas (2-1, 0-1 home): The last time the Bears played at Dallas was in September 2010 and everyone was talking about their offensive line problems. Not much has changed for the better in terms of the O-line for Chicago, and the Cowboys have issues there as well. Matt Forte practiced yesterday and today, and I'm assuming he'll play Monday. This will be a defensive battle, but I think the Bears start to piece it together on offense, especially if Forte plays. Chicago 24, Dallas 21.

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