Can’t we all just get along? … Nope.
The NFL is pretty familiar with PR crises. Its players don’t always make the best choices off the field, the rules seem to change constantly leaving fans unhappy, oh, and the replacement officials are doing a less than stellar job. If you didn’t watch the games to see for yourself, then you certainly heard about it on Twitter.
A Monday Night Football game between the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks sent players and fans into a frenzy after the wildly under qualified replacement officials made the worst call in history. The replacement referees have made plenty of mistakes since the start of the season, but that game pushed everyone over the edge and made the NFL end the ref labor lockout. It started as a salary dispute between the NFL and the officials, and quickly snowballed into a media storm. Did no one see this coming?
The best thing about Twitter is that it’s real-time, which is apparently something the NFL either ignored or didn’t realize. Fans and players had been begging the NFL to end the lockout for weeks via Twitter after a plethora of bad calls by the replacement refs. The NFL painted a clear picture that it wasn’t listening to anyone. The league issued a statement that a pass-interference call was missed, but the NFL stood by the call.
Footlocker was left with some explaining to do because of the infamous Packers versus Seahawks game. Fans and players joked that the NFL hired Footlocker employees to be the replacement officials because they wear a referee outfit as a work uniform. Footlocker reassured us that its employees were hard at work in the stores and not making the calls on the field.
T.J. Lang, a guard for the Green Bay Packers, sent out a tweet that sparked a lot of conversation. He dared the NFL to fine him after cursing out the replacement officials in a series of tweets following the game. Even President Obama took to Twitter to express his displeasure with the NFL and the replacement refs.
… Can you hear me now?
Apparently, because by Wednesday night the lockout was over and an agreement between the regular, qualified referees and the NFL was reached. The NFL couldn’t ignore its fans and players anymore as its reputation was dwindling by the second. If the league learned anything from this crisis, it learned two things: 1) Listen to what people are saying on social media, and 2) It got very lucky because not all crises solve itself. The NFL had no other choice than to settle the lockout immediately.
For now, all is well in the NFL realm. Peace has been restored. Sleep easy fans and players, the regular officials are back.