|Roger Goodell said he was sorry Thursday. (US Presswire)|
For the first time, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell apologized to fans for the abominable performance of the replacement officials during the first three weeks of the season. Of course, he didn't phrase it quite like that.
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"We're sorry to have to put our fans through that,” Goodell said on a Thursday afternoon conference call with reporters from around the country.
The news Wednesday night that the replacements will be replaced by the real officials, who have come to terms with the owners on a new labor deal, was met with waves of online high-fives from fans and media. In reality, with the exception of one game, the incompetence displayed by the replacements -- and the sheer hubris of the owners in allowing the farce to continue for 48 regular-season games -- likely will be forgotten.
And though Goodell said the results from that game didn't directly influence the agreement that occurred just TWO days later (by the way, he also said this regarding M.D. Jennings' supposed interception of Russell Wilson: "There are controversial calls and people see them differently") he also seemed to realize the missed call that could have far-reaching postseason effects wasn't such a positive moment either.
“Not much surprises me about the influence and the attention that it gets,” Goodell said.
Of course, his position directly contradicts what an owner told CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman: "That game reshaped everything. I can't remember the last time our league was a laughingstock nationally. It shook me. I think it shook a lot of people.
"We were prepared to go longer. We couldn't after that."
More from Goodell: “Mistakes do happen. We're trying to limit those mistakes. It's not realistic to think officiating will be perfect.”
That's true, and when the real officials take the field for the Thursday night game, mistakes will be made. But the real officials also know the rules -- which seemed to be a problem for the replacements.
Those interlopers also were a problem for the health and safety of the players. Right?
“I don't believe it created a greater risk to player safety,” Goodell said.
OK, then. I think I know the answer to this already, but how about the performances of the replacements? (I assume Goodell didn't see this Eye on Football blog post.)
"They were under unprecedented scrutiny,” he said. “They kept the game going [and were] incredibly focused and dedicated."
Just not very good at their jobs.