Thursday night's game between the Browns and Ravens featured a sight that these eyes thought they would never see.
The officials got a standing ovation when they came onto the field, something that's got to be a first outside of officiating conventions and stadiums where they neglected to provide seating for the fans. We'll see if the Cowboys crowd gives them the same kind of reaction on Monday night, but we'd expect to see Jerry Jones leading the ovation if it does go down that way.
Jones was one of the more hardcore owners when it came to the NFL's attempt to break the referees union as he spent a little bit of time in each of his weekly interviews saying that no matter how many egregious errors were made, it wasn't actually a big deal that gym teachers and Lingerie Football League washouts were overseeing games involving the team he spends millions of dollars on each year.
So why would he give an ovation?
"From the big picture perspective, we didn’t miss any games, the popularity of our game is intact and that’s one of the reasons it had the attention it did, because it’s so popular and so visible and so interesting to a lot of people,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan. “We’re pleased with that. … Everyone involved in this process wants the very best officiating you can have."
While we're sure that Jones and the other owners were very happy not to have anything get in the way of their golden goose over the last three weeks, we're wondering if he actually said that last bit with a straight face. There is no way under the sun to spin what the owners did to make it seem like they were the least bit interested in having the "very best" officiating possible.
If they did care about that and though that having a bench of officials in reserve was so important to making that happen, why didn't they actually try to propose the deal signed Wednesday months ago? Yes, they'd still have to pay into a pension plan for existing officials, but why is that a problem when the business of football is booming?
It's a problem because they didn't want to give other league employees a pension. That has nothing to do with the quality of officiating and while it looks like a good deal for both sides, the current agreement doesn't do much to make you think there will be a noticeable difference on the field in the weeks to come.
The NFL's first and only question when making a choice about things that affect the game should be whether or not it makes football better. The lockout made football worse, by any measure, and it's insulting to suggest otherwise.