NFL Owners: clean up this mess

A debacle. A travesty. The worst blown call in the history of the NFL. A fix. Sheer incompetence at its highest level.

Call it whatever you want, but the ending to last night’s Monday Night Football game between the Packers and the Seahawks has got to be the tipping point to get the owners of the NFL to cave in and come to an agreement with the real NFL refs regarding their pay and pension.

I read that the difference between the two parties is about $10 million, which, if they did settle for that amount would cost each NFL team a little over $310,000 or about $40,000 for every home game. I read on Yahoo Sports that the difference is actually only $3 million.

You’ve got to be kidding me.

The NFL is worth more than most third world countries. Last year, owners generated $9.5 billion in revenue. They have deals with NBC, CBS and ABC worth $28 billion over the next nine years and $15.2 billion with ESPN through 2021.

Money is not the issue. Apparently, the main issue is the pension. The owners want to switch to a more traditional $401k style of a retirement plan which has more uncertainty built into it for the refs over the long haul.

This much is certain – these replacement refs are in way over their heads and they are ruining the games.

The blown TD call was just one in a series of horrible calls last night.

There was an interception that was overturned due to a non-existent roughing the passer call. There was an interference call that led to a Seahawks first down when it was the Seahawks player that did the interfering. The Patriots-Ravens Sunday night football game had 13 first downs awarded as a result of penalties – the most in NFL history. Vicious blows haven’t been called and so there have been even more of them – just ask Texans’ quarterback Matt Schaub who lost part of his ear due to an illegal hit.

Something tells me all these recent games have been fixed. The point spread on last night’s game was Packers, -3. They were winning by 5 which should have been the winning margin, pleasing bettors but displeasing Vegas. Sunday night’s game also had the point spread do a remarkable reversal due to the calls of the replacement refs.

But maybe it’s not Vegas that’s fixing these games. Maybe it’s some under the table deal between the NFL Referees Association and the replacement refs. Put simply, the deal is for the replacement refs to make absolutely horrendous calls each game and by week three, the fans will reach a boiling point and demand that a resolution be reached. Do your part, and we’ll find you a job later on for the horrible work you’ve done.

Smart move.

Mr. Goodell, on behalf of your uber-wealthy owners, get this thing fixed before Thursday night’s kick-off.

This farce must end.


Thank you, London

What a show the Brits put on last night to bid adieu to the Olympics.

It was a nostalgic blast from the past, integrated into the present with a high-tech array of lighting throughout the stadium and over-the-top staging that had me wondering what’s next, even when NBC told me what was coming before the commercial break.

It made me realize how much my love of music is deeply tied to our friends across the pond. Music from the Beatles, Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Queen, Elton John and many others performed by many of today’s Brit stars was fun to both see and hear. I haven’t been waiting for the reunion of the Spice Girls but when they rolled onstage, I thoroughly enjoyed their performance. Spice indeed.

I think my favorite moment was Fatboy Slim at the head of a giant octopus doing his music mix thing. It made no sense. It made perfect sense.

London was the epicenter of music, its tentacles reaching out across the globe to pull us in on the celebration.

At least, that was my interpretation of it.

After two weeks of games, months of hype, and hundreds of millions spent in staging, hosting and bringing us the spectacle of the 2012 Olympics, London should be able to take the day off today. True to form, they brought the curtain down.

I’m glad I tuned in.

Even if it was on tape delay.

The high price of (Olympic) gold

If you thought you were inundated with endless advertising during any major election year, brace yourself for an Olympic onslaught that’s already underway with opening ceremonies not slated to begin until July 27.

Already, we’re seeing endless promos from NBC (provided you watch NBC). They’ve been airing prime time coverage of the Olympic trials for the past week and during those trials they constantly hype the upcoming games. After spending $4.38 billion dollars to capture the broadcast and online rights to coverage through 2020, they certainly need to do a little promoting to get back their investment.

Still, it’s probably a losing proposition. In 2010, NBC lost an estimated $223 million on the Vancouver games. But they did manage to get in a few plugs for their upcoming fall lineup of shows.

The usual corporate sponsors have signed on and their “proud sponsor” commercials are in full swing. Visa is everywhere you want to be. McDonald’s is proud to support the Olympic dreams of our fast food nation. Coca-Cola is spreading their happiness message while others like GE, Panasonic, Omega and Samsung are touting their respective Olympic tie-in stories to tout their products.

Awareness will be up but that doesn’t necessarily mean sales will also rise. Studies show that unless you are launching a new product line and that it is a fully integrated effort, that merely showing up on the airwaves will be at best a momentary blip in your sales efforts.

If you’re going to compete in the Olympics, you’ve got to go all in and stay in the race.

As for the host country, they’re all set to take a giant Olympic bath. It’s estimated that more than $37.5 billion will be spent by our good hosts across the pond to stage these Olympics. The original estimate was around $12-$14 billion but costs have spiraled wildly out of control, due in part to increased security and infrastructure measures.

When first awarded to London, the Olympics were heralded as the savior to Britain’s battered economy. In reality, these games will do a great job of continuing to land blow after blow to their economic well-being. Even as 40,000 athletes, coaches, trainers and hangers-on descend upon the Olympic Village along with a multitude of attendees, it’s estimated that tourism is expected to drop by 4% as non-Olympic-related tourists are expected to shy away from London town to avoid the gridlock and detours that the Olympics will help create.

I dug around a bit but was unable to find how much U.S. taxpayer money goes towards supporting the Olympics. In Australia, the price of an Olympic gold works out to about $15 million per medal needed in taxpayer support.

There are exceptions, but in general, from the time the first modern day Olympics began back in 1896, they’ve been a losing proposition to the host city and often to the host country. After the Olympics leave town, many of the oversized stadiums used to host some of the games go unused because they simply can’t attract the Olympic-sized crowds.

So what’s my point with all of this negativity about the Olympic games? I love watching the Dream Team, I enjoy the track and field and the volleyball and the diving. I’m all for the Olympics.

But I don’t think they necessarily inspire the average citizens of any country to work out more. I do think some of our youth see these games and pursue their dreams. But there are just as many who pursue their dreams to be doctors or teachers or scientists or NBA stars or whatever. Dreams should always be supported.

Olympic dreams carry high price tags and sharing those dreams with the world costs a lot from broadcasting them to sponsoring them and the returns are far from guaranteed.

So sit back, have a cheeseburger and a Coke and enjoy the games!