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John Lynch: NFL told broadcasters deal was imminent, go easy on replacements

Heading into the first week of the NFL regular season, the replacement officials were a huge story. After one of the biggest blown calls in NFL history on Monday night, they have become national news. While the league has done everything in its power to stop players and coaches from berating the fill-in refs, analysts and broadcasters are no longer holding back. Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth led the way by ripping the calls in the Sunday night game, and Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden followed suit on Monday. Now we’re learning from former safety and current FOX NFL analyst John Lynch that the league wanted broadcasters to go easy on the replacement refs in Week 1.

“I know Week 1 the league I think kind of duped every network in calling us and said ‘we’re close to a deal, so have your guys go easy.’ So that was kind of the edict from up top: go easy on these guys,” Lynch said during an appearance on “The Dan Patrick Show.”

“[The league wasn't] telling us not to say anything, but be careful because a deal was close. And then they duped us like everybody else. So the next week it was take the gloves off, say whatever you want — and we have.”

Sounds like the NFL was trying to control the message initially, but once the replacement refs became as big of a disaster as they did, and things hit a DEFCON 1 stage, the NFL really couldn’t say much. Even ESPN broadcasters were ripping the refs, and they hardly ever say anything off-script.

The good news is that enough fans and media members spoke out about the disaster, forcing what could be a settlement between the sides. That’s why it’s important not to be silenced and to speak out when things are wrong.

John Lynch Is Bitching and I Agree

Jay Cutler Sacked

It’s not as if I don’t condone guys playing hard in the preseason, especially since many of those guys are playing for their livelihoods. It’s just that I side with John Lynch here when it comes to preseason etiquette — you don’t go all-out with exotic blitz packages, which is why he was complaining following the Broncos loss Saturday to the Cowboys.

“I don’t know if Wade’s (ticked) off the Broncos fired him, but it sure looked that way,” Broncos safety John Lynch said.

Lynch wanted to make it clear he was joking.

But as a safety entering his 15th season, Lynch is qualified to know football’s unwritten rules better than most. The Broncos played their base, seven-man front on defense Saturday and, because their offensive line is so banged up, tried to employ a conservative plan when they had the ball.

“That’s not what they did,” Lynch said. “They came out and game- planned us, blitzing every play. They came after us. It’s no excuse for the way we played. But I think they might have broken the code of ethics for the preseason.”

Speaking on behalf of fantasy football owners everywhere, there’s no use in having a player get injured in the preseason because of extra blitzing. The only thing worse than a preseason injury is a Pro Bowl injury — and there’s not much of a difference between the two. Ahh, the tale of the bitter Wade Phillips. I love it.

(Photo Credit Post / Helen H. Richardson)