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Goodell: “We’re sorry to have to put our fans through that”

Roger Goodell

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell smiles before an NFL football game between the New York Giants and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)


NFL commissioner Roger Goodell emphasized in a conference call with the national media Thursday that the short-term pain of replacement officials was worth the long-term gain of an eight-year deal with the NFLRA, while noting: “We’re sorry to have to put our fans through that.”
While Goodell wouldn’t go so far as to admit the final crew of replacements blew a game-deciding call in Seattle Monday night, he acknowledged that the attention that game received may have nudged them closer to a deal.

“This has gotten a lot of attention. It hasn’t been positive,” Goodell said. “We had to work through it to get to an eight-year agreement.”

For the most part, Goodell stuck with the league’s established talking points, that it was about more than economics, that establishing a bench of officials was important for accountability, and that getting to that point required the use of replacement officials.

“We weren’t going to shut down football,” he said. “It is painful in the process.”

No more so than in Green Bay, where the Packers lost a game on a blown call, one which could end up making a significant difference in their season. Asked about their concerns specifically, Goodell said he’s been in touch with some of their players, but made several references to mistakes being “just part of sports.”

Goodell also took on a primary talking point of players, saying: “I do not believe this put any greater risk to player health and safety, there is no data to back that up.”

He also saluted the replacement refs for dealing with a difficult situation, saying they were under “unprecedented scrutiny, ... they kept the game going.”

And if that’s not the equivalent of giving a D student the perfect attendance award, I don’t know what is.