- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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Here it is, folks. Your NFL officials controversy in a nutshell. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, asked about the controversial ending to Monday Night's Packers-Seahawks game, said on the radio Tuesday morning that he didn't see it and hadn't heard about it. Per ESPNDallas.com:
"I didn't see that ending last night," Jones said on KRLD-FM. "I cut it off about halftime."
Jones said he hadn't received any phone calls about the controversy: "I just read a little note in the paper that the Seahawks pulled it out," he said, quickly switching the subject to praise Seattle's team.
Pressed further on the matter, Jones made his best sales pitch.
"We can have all kinds of what-ifs," Jones said. "We've played three games and we've got 16 to play. It's exciting. It gives us a lot to talk about on our shows that we have. But fundamentally, when I look at where the league is over the first three ballgames, it's great. Lot of competition."
That's it, right there. That's the NFL owners' stance. They don't care how ridiculous the proliferation their lockout of the officials makes them or their league look, because people are still talking about and watching the games. And that's why nothing that happens on the field with these replacement officials is going to change anything about the situation.
A couple of people have suggested that Jones' take on this might be different if it had been his team that had lost on the bad call. I do not believe it would. I think the owners have dug in on this, that they believe they are in the right and that what they are hoping to accomplish in terms of dictating and establishing work rules for their employees that are as beneficial as possible to their own bottom lines. I believe a conversation very much like this took place some months ago in a plush hotel banquet hall in Palm Beach, Fla.:
Hypothetical voice of reason (the commissioner, a fellow owner, a league PR rep, somebody): "OK, so another lockout. Second year in a row. This is what you guys want to do, right?"
NFL owners, including Jerry Jones: "You betcha!"
Hypothetical voice of reason: "OK, then. You know it's very likely that if we go ahead with these replacement officials, we're going to look really foolish, get ripped like crazy by media and our broadcast partners and a few of our teams are probably going to lose games we should have won. That's OK with you guys too?"
NFL owners, including Jerry Jones: "Well, is any of that going to affect TV ratings, attendance or advertising revenue?"
Hypothetical voice of reason: "Nope. Not one bit. We'll actually probably keep setting records for that stuff."
NFL owners, including Jerry Jones: "So, what was the problem again?"
Face it, the NFL's owners are fine with things the way they are and aren't about to change the way they're operating this situation. This is what they wanted, and they don't see anything wrong with the way it's working out. That's why Jones can come out and ask us to believe he didn't see the game and didn't get any calls about it. He and the rest of his fellow owners know you're going to keep buying their product no matter how they present it to you. So why should he act as though anything's wrong?