For nearly 92 years, the National Football League has been the cornerstone league in all of sports.

Cartoon by Manny Alfaro

Serving as an outlet for social activity, millions of fans across the nation gather with friends every Sunday. Until last season, at least in our generation, the NFL could seemingly do no wrong.

When the players were locked out prior to last season, football was marred but not yet tarnished. It was bruised but unbroken.

As this preseason progressed and the season got underway, television sets across the nation were finally changing channels. Coaches, players, media and fans spoke out in protest of the NFL’s newest blunder: employing replacement officials.

Faces of the NFL, such as Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers, contested that the integrity of the league was tarnished. Games in weeks one through three in the 2012-13 season will forever have an asterisk. They will forever put a sour taste in the mouths of so many fans.

Worst though, as difficult as it was to watch the referee saga, the occasions, any many ways, is a microcosm for the United States of America.

It is commonplace in our culture to fight a major change, pretending hardships do not exist, until our world is shattered with tragedy. It is routine that we prey on those who lack experience, those who show weakness, instead of addressing the real problem with our culture.

Replacement referees were never the issue. It was the NFL that was the problem. It is our society, our culture, that is the problem.

The NFL and its referee dilemma became priority number one.

All members of the media – including political media – took a break from the 2012 Presidential Election and quickly turned their attention to asking both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney what they thought of the replacement referees. Health Care, the War in Iraq and any other political platform were forced into the background.

Again, a microcosm of American media: entertainment before news.

Roger Goodell and the 32 owners of franchises across the league believed that officials were replaceable. Despite the prominence of their multi-billion dollar league, the NFL decided it was better to save a few bucks – while, in turn, providing a careless service to the masses – instead of giving loyal viewers the game of integrity that we have all come to love.

None of this was ever about the money. It was about pride.

The NFL refused to give in to the demands of the officials until tragedy – in the form of a game changing blown call – jeopardized their fortune.

As long as the NFL had their lucrative television contracts, the league would not address the issue of officiating until the roof came crashing in. They held their ground, saying the new officials had not yet decided an outcome – with emphasis on yet.

When avid football fans began changing their channel after last Monday night’s touchdown-interception debacle, the NFL scrambled to make a deal. They rushed to the rescue of the most prestigious sports league in the United States, not out of pride, out of pure greed.

Shame on Roger Goodell. Shame on the NFL.

And shame on us.