As bitter as I am about the effect of the bounty scandal on my New Orleans Saints, you may be surprised that I'm actually angrier about the league's lockout of its top-tier officials. The Saints still stand a chance of rallying — they are, after all, a largely intact nucleus that's succeeded together for years. The same can't be said for these overwhelmed small-college officials.
If the Saints screw up, they can only blame the bounty to a point, and ultimately their standing will affect only themselves. But consistently terrible play-calling affects not just multiple teams, but could harm the entire season and the integrity of the game itself.
It's interesting how this dispute falls so clearly along political lines. In a way, it even mirrors the current presidential cycle.
On one hand, you have officials fighting for a fair compensation package and pension. Fans upset about the slowed pace of the game and questionable calls and non-calls. Retired officials and players confirming the deterioration. Most of whom aren't blaming the officials themselves, but the conditions that led to this situation.
On the other side are Roger Goodell, Jerry Jones and the rest of the plutocrats, along with their defenders who insist the problem is union thuggery. They insist the officials will get better so we should just put up with it.
It's not difficult for me to pick a side.
Ultimately, the NFL brass is going to lose. All the money and misinformation in the world can't counter the fact that everyone — defenders included — is angry over the prospect of putting up with this drop-off in quality much longer. It's a lot like politics — easy to side with the big boys until you see for yourself how badly their policies ruin things.
This is the NFL's Mitt Romney moment.