Bad news for Roger Goodell and the NFL's lockout of its officials: You've made an enemy in our ironworkin' state Senate president.
Steve Sweeney is a union man, a Packers fan, and the guy who called our esteemed governor "the mean old bastard who screws everybody." He also, according to the Star-Ledger's reporting, can bench press north of 200 pounds. Moral of the story: Sweeney is not someone you want on your enemies list.
But now, the Senate president is planning to block replacement refs from working NFL games in New Jersey (yes, he even referred to them as "scabs" in a press release), which of course spells the end for the league's ability to continue to sabotage itself by allowing its games to devolve from a bunch of overweight guys running into each other at top speed to a bunch of overweight guys running into each other and then tweeting about it. Folks, when NPR — yes, NPR, where they discuss Chinese currency issues with a level of depth and detail, and in such monotone, that causes most drivers to fall asleep at the wheel — is issuing you a slap to the face, you've got some work to do.
If this is your first time reading this blog, well, congratulations for making it this far; I hope you stick around for more. But you should know we often get pretty sarcastic here, so no, I don't expect the Giants and Jets to cancel their home games because Sweeney wants union refs back on the field. Pro sports is about as far from a game today as you can get; it's a business empire, and nowhere is that more the case than at the NFL, which is so bloated that it can generate ticket sales just by threatening to black out TV coverage. If you think the players are just "cattle" — look at what's going on in the NHL right now between owners, players and that nefarious creation called "Gary Bettman" — what does that make refs?
But fans of the games aren't going anywhere, even if the refs never work again, so the league can keep doing as it pleases while its on-field product continues to deteriorate. At least those out-of-work refs — if they weren't so busy trying to feed their families right now — could take solace in seeing those fans realize that maybe they weren't just a herd of blind, Foot Locker-employed zebras who had it out for their team. Turns out, they were pretty good at avoiding signaling calls like the guys are doing in the photo here.
I'm even more irreverent on Twitter @joe_arney.