The very first article I wrote for PJ Media way back in October 2011 had to do with the NFL — particularly how nanny statism had invaded the league. One particular feature I pointed out was how the league has decreed that referees are beyond reproach, to the point where a player, coach, or executive who dares criticize a referee can be subject to a fine.
“Commissioner Roger Goodell has made it clear that while coaches and owners can speak to the league office freely about problems with officiating, public comments are subject to fines — even when the refs are wrong,” I wrote back then.
It’s still the case, as Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is likely to figure out. The 80-year-old owner dressed up for Halloween as one of the hoariest of sports cliches: the blind referee.
— Clarence Hill Jr (@clarencehilljr) October 30, 2022
“Oh, yeah, I had the cane and everything!” Jones told Sports Illustrated. “And I used it on some people, too!”
It’s pretty funny, even if it has been done to death, but the NFL might not think so. You see, the attitude that no one should dare publicly criticize the refs is still prevalent. In fact, the NFL issued a memo in 2019 reiterating that calling out refs is a big no-no. The memo specifically mentions as forbidden:
…[c]riticism of officiating which includes, but is not limited to, the following: Comments regarding the quality of officiating, individual calls or missed calls, the League’s officiating department, an officiating crew, or an individual game official; [a]ccusing game officials of acting with bias or in any way questioning the integrity of NFL game officials; or [p]osting negative or derogatory/demeaning content pertaining to officiating on social media.
The memo also mentions that owners, players, coaches, and anyone else cannot speak publicly about any conversations they have had with the league office regarding officials. And while it’s true that the memo doesn’t specifically mention Halloween costumes, the NFL doesn’t have a reputation for having a sense of humor or thick skin.
Jones’ son Stephen is hoping that the NFL sees that the costume was all in good fun.
“They have a very difficult job in real time,” Stephen Jones told The K&C Masterpiece podcast on Monday. “I do think they understand you can have some humor with this stuff, but I can’t imagine they don’t think there’s nothing but respect that comes out of the Cowboys organization in terms of how difficult their job is and what a good job they do, as well.”
We’ll see what the NFL has to say about Jones’ costume. Even if he’s stuck paying a fine, it probably won’t be that big a deal. He’s got plenty of money.
This content was originally published here.