A Letter To The NFL: Replacement Refs Must Go

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Dear Mr. Goodell and Co., Your warning to coaches and players regarding showing respect for the replacement officials is a slap in the collective face of your fans- your market. The league has intentionally allowed the quality of games to be downgraded simply to avoid paying more money to the professional officials. It is transparent that in demanding teams to “respect” (in other words avoid criticizing) the incompetent replacements, you are simply requiring respect for the league's mistake. It would seem you have all the leverage, so why should you negotiate with the legitimate officials? Replacement referees or not, people will watch the NFL. Demand for your product has become virtually inelastic. Consider this however: The NFL is more than simply a product. Each Sunday is a piece of history, every year a part of the legacy. Fans are not just consumers. They store up the memories- triumphs and defeats- and those memories become a part of who they are as fans of their teams, the league, and the sport. A year in which the league allows the integrity of the game to suffer will likely not cost you financially. However, it will become a part of your history, your league, your legacy. Ultimately, it will cost the NFL, even if the costs can't be quantified. You threaten fines and penalties for teams who fail to show respect for the replacements. Respect, for the official in the Ravens-Eagles game, who on the field told LeSean McCoy that he had the running back on his fantasy team. Respect, when prior to a Saints game, one of the officials slotted for that game appeared on his facebook page in a Saints jersey and tailgating outside the hometown stadium. Respect, after the officials call two two-minute warnings in a game that lasted nearly four hours and hosted several fights. Respect is earned, Mr. Goodell. And we all hope the game has earned enough of yours for you to now make the best choice for the season, the teams, and the fans. The NFL is prosperous, but of all the earnings, you are failing to earn respect until you bring back the authentic framework that has made Sundays so popular. Sincerely, More Than Just A Customer