The shoe being on the other foot feels good, doesn't it? Not exactly spilling many tears for those poor sad Packers or their fans upset over losing a game on one controversial call.
That said ... the replacement refs are bad. Seriously bad. If the 49ers score on that extra possession they got from the timeout/no-timeout/challenge/have-another-timeout/do-the-hokey-pokey foolishness in the fourth quarter Sunday, do they get momentum to come back in the game? Not much talk about that screwup today but that was bad. Block in the back on the kicking team? Laugh-out-loud bad.
But there's not much to do about it, right? Talk radio this morning was filled with people pooh-poohing the idea of a boycott. Seen some of that on DN, too (nice looking reboot, btw). And let's be serious, I can't spring for the Ticket but I'm not giving up my Game Rewind; I want to watch the Vikings play some football, dangit. I can't ... wouldn't ... ask any Vikings fan to give up watching them play.
There is something I can boycott, though.
Here it is: No More Swag. No jerseys, no ball caps, no bumper stickers, no flags. No Vikings stuff for Christmas for my dad, or my brother, or my son. No NFL stuff of any kind, for anybody, this season. Sure, I'll still watch the game -- a fan is a fan is a fan -- but you're not getting anything more out of me this year.
Would the owners notice? Maybe not. The league clears 9 billion dollars-plus annually, mostly off the television contract, and each team's take on apparel only works out to be something like 5 million a year. But then these 32 owners are putting this second-best product on the field because they don't want to pay an extra 30 million over seven years into the refs' pension. That only works out to about 150k per year or so, per team. So they do seem to care a lot about even pretty small slices of income.
"But wait," you say, "it's not like I think much of the regular referees, either." Or maybe you think the owners are right and the refs are being unreasonable asking for old-school defined benefit pensions that nobody in the real world gets anymore. Fair enough. I don't pretend to any great knowledge about the talks or who's right or who's wrong.
All I can say is this: the immediate cause for the stupidest of the stupid stuff on the field is the replacement referees, and the reason there are replacement referees is because of the NFL owners. (Hence the referee "lockout", not a referee "strike") And anyway, I don't see boycotting merch sales as supporting the referees so much as it is signaling that, while the NFL the game will always have my allegiance, the NFL the pan-galactic business enterprise has to earn my dollars.
And it ain't, right now. It just ain't.
So keep your branded travel mug and your blow-up chair and your bleacher blanket. Peddle your DVD collection and your license plate holder and your "authentic" replica jersey somewhere else. Not me, not this year.