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Indirect Paths to Ownership: Ideas on how we can pressure people to pressure the NFL Owners

While everyone is aware how the Seahawks were given the game last night by the incompetence of the officials, most are also aware that for all their piss and vinegar, the NFL Owners just don't care. Not until the owners see a loss of revenue from this decision and can directly connect this loss to their decision to hire replacement refs will they think about easing their positions in negotiation.

Here are my ideas for some indirect ways to get to the owner's pocketbook:

Pressure the Major Media to Pressure the Owners

In a broad, largely-uneducated reading of the situation between the League and the various media outlets that cover it, there is potentially a breech of contract between the NFL Owners and the Media that broadcast it. It could be argued that the replacement referees have changed the product that FOX, CBS, NBC, and ESPN signed on to cover. The other branches of these media outlets are already used to the idea of driving through twitter hashtags so #FreeEdHoculi might be speaking their language.

Possible Impotence: It is likely that the contracts are written in such a way that this point cannot be argued to an arbitrator. If the networks all pay for the rights to broadcast the games distribute payment before the season, then they have no pocketbook leverage.

Pressure the Major Sponsors to Pressure the Owners

Bud Light, Pepsi, and other official fill-in-the-blanks of the NFL are built around their brands as opposed to their products. For companies like this, something as little as the owner's nutty political statements can cast a negative light on their brand. It would be a major customer-friendly move to put pressure on the NFL to do something that the fans want them to do anyway. This kind of advertiser-based boycott has been successful in political circles but because of the monopoly of most sports leagues, it is untested for this kind of action.

Possible Impotence: The same contract and payment schedule issues that are present in the Major Media may be present in the advertisers. Competing advertisers (Dr. Pepper, Coors Light) could do this as a marketing scheme first with nothing to lose before the official sponsors could take this action. There's also the potential for double-talk with the sponsors doing this in marketing yet assuring the NFL that nothing will change.

Pressure Apparel Makers to Pressure the Owners

If Nike (et al.) see a downward spike in apparel sales and social media backs up the reason for the drop, they might feel enough of a pinch in the pocketbook to take action. Besides game attendance, apparel l is likely the only non-set source of income for the league. Nike is already having enough bad press over their uniforms, maybe they can make a statement about the Replacement Refs that is music to the ears of their customers and to the players that they sponsor.

Potential impotence: As an exclusive sponsor, Nike might have an air-tight contract that gives them no room for opinion. Much like the official sponsors, any pressure on the apparel makers would require major social media action. Boycotts like this don't usually work because the drop in sales is usually followed by a good uptick after the end of the boycott.

Pressure the Local Government Lease-Holders to Pressure the Owners

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Conclusion

While any of these strategies may make the fans feel better, the likelihood is that they will only produce a sternly worded letter. The only way for the Owners to feel any pressure to do anything is for people to stop paying attention to the NFL. And while you and I probably aren't going to do that, our Superbowl-only, fair-weather friends and family that occasionally remember the SASOR (Same Ol' Sorry Ass Rams) just might.

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