The National Football League is a $10 BILLION/year business that lives in the hearts, minds, and wallets of every red-blooded American male. Television ratings are astronomical, team loyalty is fervent, and billions more dollars (and tears) are generated by secondary industries ranging from gambling, to office pools, to fantasy leagues to unofficial apparel (like this site). Pro football is more American than apple pie, and it's results are followed more closely (and arguably have greater impact) than our elections.
So how could it all get mucked up by a labor dispute with part-time employees?!
We're not sure how...but we know that it did.
Heading into the 2012 season, the league was in a contract dispute with its officials' union and resolved to proceed without them. The pre-season was comical enough, but surely the REAL games would not proceed like that?! Million-dollar coaches meticulously game-planning for the world's finest athletes to compete in front of screaming crowds in gleaming stadiums under the watchful eye of a nation glued to satellite feeds with the fate ultimately determined by replacements?! Wins, losses and point spreads at the mercy of high-school refs, D-II officials, and refugees from the Lingerie Football League?! That's just what happened...and the results were predictable.
Penalties were botched, clocks were mismanaged, timeouts were miscounted and rules erroneously interpreted to the frustration of players, coaches and the public. The league's integrity hit rock-bottom after a Monday night debacle that saw numerous mistakes capped by a horrible call on the final play that literally and directly changed the outcome. As that game's chaotic closing whistle reverberated throughout Seattle, one could also make out the faint sound of a camel's back breaking under one-too-many straws. The outcry crossed over from the sports world to popular culture at-large...politicians, news outlets and late-night comics all pounced, and the league finally caved-in. Week 4 saw the real officials back on the turf.
Out national nightmare is over, but we should never forget! At least we can laugh about it now (unless you're in Green Bay) - do so with the fun shirt that mocks and memorializes the reign of the replacements with a design depicting the farcical confusion that ruled the game for three ugly weeks. Like all National Fanthem, it is not an official product of any player, league, franchise or zebra - it's just a comical piece of original art from our imagination -- created by hand and rendered digitally as a lossless high-resolution vector graphic for perfect printing. It comes in several colors on 100% cotton pre-shrunk tees in sizes small through 5XL. ( Alternate brands/cuts/colors/sizes can be custom-printed for little additional cost