I felt a wave of security wash over me as I sat on my couch, watching the events unfold on my TV. Our long, national nightmare was at an end. The National Football League had settled with their regular officials, ushering out the past several weeks of unrest as things got back to normal on the field. How gratified were the commoners to have their beloved referees back, replacing the replacements who had replaced them? The guys in the black and white shirts got a standing ovation in Baltimore. That may be a first in professional sports.
As this feeling of calm settled into the night and the rest of the week, I reflected on the work action that resulted in the average NFL official getting a raise from $149,000 a year last year to $173,000 in 2013. By 2019, that salary will be over two hundred thousand dollars a year. Of course, in the big book of NFL salaries and revenue, this is change dug from beneath the seats of Jerry Jones' Lincoln Town Car. Kudos to these hard-working, under-appreciated fellows who work under all kinds of adverse conditions while enduring the scorn and wrath of half of the viewing public at any given moment. Their plight was felt all the way to the top: both Mitt "Friend of the Working Man" Romney and Barack "Photo Op"Bama threw their thoughts into the fray in the days leading up to the settlement.
They were on different sides of the work action in Chicago a few weeks back. Mitt condemned the teachers. Barack condemned Mitt for condemning the teachers. This was all about the concerns of a group of working men and women who were making approximately one half the average salary of the average NFL official. Of course, these "teachers" were already suspect for their nine month school year and ridiculously short work days. Eight to three? Why all the fuss about a little more scrutiny over their practices and pensions? Get back to work, slackers. Our children need you.
But not as much as we need to have our professional referees. That sense of calm began to drift away.