Pertinent fact 1: This whole dispute with the NFL refs could be solved for roughly half of what Tarvaris Jackson is making to back up a guy from Harvard.
Pertinent opinion 1: The fact that it has not is due solely to the fact that Roger Goodell wants to show the miserable peasants who's boss. Saying that the refs suddenly don't get the pension plan they'd been promised for years because he doesn't get one only works as an argument if all of those refs were also making north of $10M a year. I'll give you a hint. They're not.
Pertinent fact 2: Refereeing NFL games is really hard to do well.
Pertinent opinion 2: For all of the mythology about the simple elegance of football, the NFL rulebook is a horrific mishmash of weird rules, special cases, and just plain strangeness about the thickness of an L. Ron Hubbard novel. Mastering its contents as part of a part-time job would be extremely difficult. Trying to then use that knowledge while having to pursue world-class athletes (and nose tackles) up and down the field whilst being screamed at and intimidated by dictatorial nutbar headcoaches and two small armies of human goliaths (and kickers), all of whom literally have millions riding on the outcome of the season and who are used to having their every whim catered to, is nigh impossible. There was no way they could ever have slid in flawlessly to replace teams of professionals who have been doing this for years, who have the league's backing, and who have earned the respect of the guys they'd be refereeing. The replacement refs, on the other hand, have been thrown into the deep end by a league that will clearly abandon them as soon as they're no longer needed, and the players and coaches know it. To be blunt, it's a miracle there haven't been more catastrophes, and I challenge any of the armchair Ed Hochulis out there to do any better under these insane circumstances. Here's a hint - you won't.
Pertinent fact 3: The NFL thinks they can run sub-standard product out there and you'll watch anyway BECAUSE IT'S FOOBAW.
Pertinent opinion 3: Available evidence suggests they're right. Remember how, during the lockout of the players, everyone was all "Oh, this will destroy trust in the game" and "the fans will take years to come back" and "Tony Romo sucks"? The second the lockout ended, bam, butts were in seats, fantasy leagues were full, and you were hooked again. Never mind that it did affect the product on the field - ask any Eagles fan about trying to break in new schemes and coordinators without benefit of a real offseason or training camp - for the worse. It Was Foobaw. And so, when this thing wraps up, when Goodell extracts some token concession from the refs and pays them their promised pension, all the folks who have sworn up and down that they're tired of the league showing contempt for them, that they're tired of getting substandard product, that they've had it and they're not coming back....they'll be back. Instantly.
Pertinent fact 4: The racist chuckleheads tweeting horrific things in Golden Tate's direction because of that last play need to go get bent.
Pertinent opinion 4: Immediately.