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posted: 9/23/2012 5:11 AM

Referee fiasco an NFL disgrace for Goodell

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  • The NFL and its locked-out officials still remain far apart in settling their contract dispute, meaning more work this weekend for replacement officials who are struggling to do the job. Barry Rozner contends it's hurting the game.

    The NFL and its locked-out officials still remain far apart in settling their contract dispute, meaning more work this weekend for replacement officials who are struggling to do the job. Barry Rozner contends it's hurting the game.
    Associated Press/file


It's hard to argue with much of what Roger Goodell has accomplished as NFL boss.

As commissioner of the owners, it's not Goodell's job to treat players or referees fairly. It's his mandate to make as much money as possible for the owners and grow the NFL, two things he has done quite well.

But when he talks about player safety and the integrity of the game while passing off his decisions as crucial to managing both, he is nothing but a hypocrite in pretending the replacement officials aren't hurting the game or the players.

The current officials are doing the best they can under impossible circumstances with a ridiculously complicated system of rules, but they are doing a terrible job.

In the process, the integrity of the game has been compromised and the safety of the players jeopardized.

Being missed with regularity are late hits, roughing calls, hits to the head and defenseless players getting crushed.

Players are not dumb, and they know what they can get away with while the real officials are locked out.

After two weeks, what's clear is a huge increase in offensive holding, pass interference and offensive pass interference, much of it missed by the replacement referees.

As much as the NFL earns each week, it seems ridiculous that Goodell is trying to put the referees in their place, squeezing a few more dollars out of their benefits plan.

Even if it's too sweet a deal for the real refs, even if their demands are grand, the NFL can afford it -- and it's a tiny price to pay.

What Goodell can't afford is more defenseless players getting hurt.

What he can't afford is games won or lost because of poor officiating.

What he can't afford is to have fans say there is no integrity in the game with officials who don't know the rules.

For such a smart guy, Goodell is being pound-foolish.

Epstein's honesty

When Theo Epstein delivered his state of the Cubs last week, lost amid the conversation was Epstein's acknowledgment that 2013 will look very much like 2012.

"There might be some tough things we have to tell the fans along the way, and there might be another trading deadline in our future where we trade away 40 percent of a really good rotation," Epstein said. "You do that because there will be a day when you acquire two starting pitchers at the deadline just to cement your club and go on a run in the postseason.

"Again, our goal from the beginning was that we were going to do what we need to do to put ourselves in position to be a contending team year in and year out. So that means no shortcuts and taking a long approach."

It's not easy to hear and it may even cost the Cubs some tickets sold in the next year or two, but his honest approach is both remarkable and admirable.

Whither Wellington?

Among the good that's come out of 2012 is that someone finally gave Welington Castillo an opportunity to play, and it looks like it has paid off nicely for the Cubs.

"He's made probably the biggest progress I think of anybody on the team right now," manager Dale Sveum said last week. "The changes he's made in his defense and calling a game and the preparation he's been going through, his whole attitude has changed, right into an everyday catcher's mindset."

Sveum likes where the 25-year-old Castillo is in regards to next season.

"I think going into spring training, he'll feel like he's the everyday catcher," Sveum said. "No matter what we do, he's going to have that mentality that he's going to catch 120 games next year."

The stat

Going into the weekend, Rory McIlroy led the PGA Tour in birdie percentage from 125 to 150 yards at 30.89 percent. Tiger Woods was 28th at 21.38, which is respectable considering the Tour average in 2012 is 18 percent, but it's certainly one of the reasons why McIlroy has closed better than Woods this year.

Woods has talked a lot about distance control being an issue, and it's costing him birdies, but when he gets his wedges in order it might be the last piece of the puzzle.

The line

Team USA is picking up steam, now a 3-5 favorite over Europe to win the Ryder Cup, with a tie listed at 10-1.

Just thinking

Jim Leyland is just about done in Detroit.

Just guessing

Ozzie Guillen would already be done in Miami if he didn't have three more years left on his contract.

The shot

Miami Herald's Greg Cote: "Reggie Miller topped a field of 12 new inductees into the Basketball Hall of Fame, a strong indication that the Hall is just way, way too easy to get into.''

Best headline "NHL owners say they can't afford to give players the huge contacts they've been giving them.''

And finally

Omaha World-Herald's Brad Dickson: "The NFL replacement refs have missed calls, awarded extra timeouts and failed to explain penalties. Well, it didn't take them long to get the hang of the job.''

• Listen to Barry Rozner on WSCR 670-AM and follow him on Twitter @BarryRozner.

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