RANDY GALLOWAY: Roger Goodell takes a stand and the games are suffering

Randy Galloway - Ft Worth Star Telegram - The Boys Are Back blogThe word is out for Sunday:

The dominant color for all NFL games in Week 3 will be yellow.

As in yellow hankies littering the field.

A flag-fest in a football game has absolutely no appeal to anyone, including those of us attending the Cowboys home opener at the Big Yard, but it’s a predictable counterattack by the Goodell Gang-bangers on Park Avenue in New York.

With its replacement officiating crews — "scabs," if you want to get unionized about it — the NFL took a PR beating across the land last weekend. This was a dramatic one-eighty from Week 1, when we all had to agree the league won the PR battle against the locked out regular officials.

A friend who draws a paycheck from the NFL didn’t exactly agree with me on the difference between Week 1 and Week 2. On Thursday, he said, "The league won Week 1, and last week, I’d call it a Mexican standoff."

I didn’t see the Mexican standoff. I saw the replacements seriously lose a battle over control and respect, which was predictable. Sooner or later, or as long as the replacements are working at a job they aren’t qualified to do, the players and coaches would take advantage of these newbies.

The abuse flowed across the league in Week 2.

Which brings us back to what people with knowledge of the situation are predicting for Sunday. That being, the league has ordered the replacements to fight back with their yellow hankies, including an emphasis on unsportsmanlike conduct calls.

Yes, the replacements have missed calls, or thrown phantom flags, or have had issues with rules interpretation. But over the years, how many times have we seen the regulars miss calls, or throw phantom flags?

In fact, the league now issues positive "talking points" on the officiating each week, but what missed the talking point and what hit Roger Goodell upside his hard head last weekend was a failure by the replacements to take control of games and keep the games moving. Plus, the verbal abuse was immense.

The lack of respect, and no fear of retaliation, empowered players and coaches to go far beyond where they would normally tread with the regulars.

Will a flurry of flags this week change that? No, of course not. Players and coaches smell blood. They will continue to go over the line of protocol when dealing with the replacements. There are games to be won, and there are jobs on the line for coaches and players.

What the combatants see are pigeons working as the "cops" of football. Human nature says the pigeons will be abused.

Meanwhile, I have no stance on which side is wrong in the financial battle between Goodell and the regular officials. Are the money demands of the regulars so far out of line the league had to take the lockout stance, or is the league squeezing the regulars and attempting to break their union?

Don’t know. But we all know the NFL is a massive business where the rich owners become richer because of the value of a league franchise. There is plenty of money to go around and make everyone happy, except those who have the money don’t want to give up the money.

Goodell, of course, has been on a power trip, starting with his overreaction and grandstanding in the case against the New Orleans Saints, a ruling that was more about evidence he could present in the pending lawsuits against the NFL by former players, who claim the league ignored player safety issues.

For an encore, the commissioner also decided to muscle the regular officials. And that has put the league in a position where the emphasis this season has been as much about the replacement officials as it is about the actual playing of the games.

And now, player safety is a central issue again, because with the lack of control by the replacements in Week 2, it put the league back on the defensive about that topic.

We all applauded Hall of Famer Steve Young for his powerful ESPN comments after the Monday night mess in Atlanta. Young said of the NFL:

"There is nothing they can do to hurt demand for the game. So the bottom line is they don’t care. Go ahead, gripe all you want. Let them eat cake."

Eat your cake. Goodell and the owners Do. Not. Care.

Another funny line on that Monday night mess came from former Cowboys front office executive Gil Brandt, who now writes a column for NFL.com., meaning he’s an employee of the NFL.

With a big fuss over how incompetent the replacements were when attempting to determine which team (Atlanta or Denver) recovered a fumble on Monday night, Brandt told me Thursday:

"Maybe [the replacements] got it wrong, but I also have one less Super Bowl ring and the Cowboys have one less Lombardi because an [regular] official blew a call on a fumble."

Gil has a long and bitter memory, and rightfully so. Official Jack Fette infamously melted down on such a call in the 1970 Super Bowl loss to the Baltimore Colts.

According to several sources, the league answer on Sunday to what went on last week will be ordering the replacements to give us a flag-fest, instead of the league simply going back to the negotiating table with the regulars.

Oh, boy. More muscle from Roger Goodell, the commissioner who does not care.

We get that part of it, for sure.

Randy Galloway can be heard 3-6 p.m. weekdays on Galloway & Co. on ESPN/103.3 FM.

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