In a report filed by Judy Battista of the New York Times, Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson is mentioned as one of the owners who 'dug in' on Tuesday morning, attempting to weather the public storm of the Monday night debacle that saw the Seattle Seahawks win a game based on a blown call.
Are you shocked? If so, you really shouldn't be. This is Jerry Richardson we're talking about; fiercely loyal to his fans, but almost more loyal to the NFL brand, one that he has been a member of as a player, and owner since 1958. Message boards will have fun, and 'witty' fans trying to add another feather to their cap in the form of a belabored punchline, one that will make reference to the Carolina Panthers' lack of success, but really all it comes down to is Jerry Richardson not being a man of knee-jerk reactions, and even though the outcome was what's best for fans, make no mistake– the NFL kowtowing and negotiating was a knee-jerk reaction.
The hyperbole used by talking heads following Monday night's game was laughable; this would 'doom the NFL', and not having the regular officials back would 'destroy the brand'. Humans have a natural tendency to want to imagine they're living in a unique time in history, but the truth is the NFL could play for another 5 years with replacement officials and it wouldn't hurt the brand. Sure, public perception would change, and we'd all be a lot angrier as fans, but it wouldn't change the cash cow of the NFL, or the way we all consume it.
During the player lockout last year it was a battle between billionaires and millionaires, with the referees it was a battle between billionaires and near-millionaires. The refs weren't exactly living hand to mouth, they are men who have secure enough jobs as doctors and lawyers that their 'fun' six-month job didn't mean enough to cave to the owners; that's why the impasse lasted. Did they deserve to get paid more commensurate with how much the NFL brings in? Absolutely, but that's aside from the point.
The heart of the matter is Jerry Richardson, and who he is as an owner. We'll never know what was said behind closed doors, but I imagine it had to do with a discussion whether the league should capitulate yet again to a union. In the end this is what was best for the fans, but yet again it's a great opportunity to depict JR as the cruel Southern gent, and when it comes to villains he's not the type to give a rat's ass what you think about him.