By DREW OLSON
Even by the most lenient preseason standard, garbage time made an early entrance Thursday night at Lambeau Field.
Of course, that didn’t prevent Packers fans from harassing Graham Harrell, braying for Browns backup Colt McCoy, worrying about the wind’s impact on Mason Crosby’s accuracy and retching over more sloppy play from the players in Green and Gold.
Meanwhile, a potentially more vexing problem lurked beneath the surface, cloaked in stark black and white:
The National Football League is fighting a labor war with officials and it doesn’t look like there will be a resolution any time soon.
The issue, as always in these matters, is money. Inexperienced officials make $3,000 a game, plus expenses. The veterans make about $8,000 per game. The league claims to have offered a seven-year deal with annual pay raises between 5 and 11 percent. The union says it is closer to 3 percent. The league also wants to add nearly two dozen more officials to the pool, which would allow them to rotate crews and -- conceivably -- force underperforming officials to the sideline.
The union isn’t cool with that. Since crews wouldn’t be paid during off weeks, they see that as a pay cut. Both sides claim to like the idea of “full time” officials, but the men in stripes want salaries on par with MLB umpires and NBA referees, who make $350,000 to $400,000 with benefits, pensions, vacations, etc.
The dispute will drag into the regular season. Fans, players and coaches will complain about missed calls and delays. We may see a game -- more likely several -- influenced by blown calls.
For an industry with annual revenue in the billions to put its integrity and reputation at risk because of a few pennies seems foolish and shortsighted, but the idea of compromise seems repulsive to all involved.
Opinion, news, notes and nonsense
There is no way to sugarcoat it: Graham Harrell looked horrible on Thursday. But, he was playing with second- and third-stringers. He may not be a lost cause. I seem to remember another backup having some rough preseason outings... You now know him as the MVP of the league.
Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun, often described by my pal Tom Haudricourt as “a hitting savant,” doesn’t usually take early batting practice. A prolonged slump prompted him to change his routine on Thursday and he belted a pair of home runs. Coincidence? Perhaps. The fact is that Braun is such a consistent player that long slumps are rare.
One one hand, I can’t wait for Joe Posnanski’s biography of Joe Paterno to hit the bookstore. On the other hand, I’m worried that JoePo (not his real nickname), who is one of my favorite sports writers -- may be lambasted for going “soft” on JoePa.
Packers rookie Jerron McMillian made an impression in his first game at Lambeau Field. McMillian lowered his shoulder and made some impressive hits.
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MVT (Most Valuable Tweets)
Interesting comments from the world of Twitter
Nothing beats a slow news night in which nobody is talking about a baseball player's hormonally enriched urine
I feel bad for people who get genuinely worked up about a backup quarterback's performance in August.
Did I miss the episode of Hard Knocks whey they cut Jesse Garcia and replaced her with @trenni ?
Lots of "we gotta look at the film" from Packers tonight
VIEW FROM THE BASEMENT
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Cheesehead TV has instant reaction to the Packers’ loss
Deadspin has the details on the Honey Badger’s departure from LSU
Awful Announcing looks to Vin Scully for the rule on no-hitters in progress
LOCAL TEAMS ON TAP
PACKERS -- at Cincinnati, 7 p.m. Thursday
BADGERS -- vs. Northern Iowa, 2:30 p.m. Sept. 1
BUCKS -- at Boston, 6:30 p.m. Nov. 2.
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THIS DATE IN SPORTS HISTORY (AUG. 17)
1933 - Lou Gehrig breaks record by playing in his 1,308th straight game
1938 - Henry Armstrong won his 3rd concurrent boxing championship
1948 - Phillies commit 8 errors in a game
1950 - Pee Wee Reese (Dodgers) & Sam Calderone (Giants) hit inside park HRs
1951 - 18th NFL Chicago All-Star Game: Cleveland 33, All-Stars 0 (92,180)
1952 - Betty Jameson wins LPGA World Golf Championship
1958 - Bonnie Hoffman wins LPGA Kansas City Golf Open
1963 - Jim Hickman becomes 1st NY Met to hit for cycle
1966 - Willie Mays takes 2nd place on all-time HR list
1969 - 51st PGA Championship: Ray Floyd shoots a 276 at NCR GC Dayton Ohio
1969 - Carol Mann wins LPGA Southgate Ladies' Golf Open
1969 - NY Jets beat NY Giants 37-14 in their 1st meeting (pre season)
1972 - Phillies Steve Carlton wins his 15th straight game
1973 - Willie Mays hits 660th & last HR (off Don Gullett of Cincinnati)
1975 - Jo Ann Washam wins LPGA Patty Berg Golf Classic
1980 - Beth Daniel wins LPGA Patty Berg Golf Classic
1980 - George Brett goes 4-for-4, raising his batting average to .401
1982 - LA Dodgers beat Chicago Cubs, 6-5, in 21 innings (game completed 8/18)
1984 - Pete Rose returns to Cin Reds as player-manager (gets 2 hits)
1986 - Cindy Mackey wins LPGA MasterCard International Golf Pro-Am
1986 - Pat Bradley wins LPGA Nestle World Golf Championship
1986 - Red Sox trade shortstop Rey Quinones & pitcher Mike Trujillo to Mariners for shortstop Spike Owen & outfielder Dave Henderson
1987 - Mohammad Ali elected to "Ring" magazine's Boxing Hall of Fame
1989 - 32nd Walker Cup: Britain-Ireland, 12½-11½
1989 - Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken moves into 3rd place (1,208th cons game)
1990 - Carlton Fisk hits White Sox record 187th HR 1991 - Royals Warren Cromartie's 1st major league HR since 1983
1992 - Kevin Gross of Dodgers tosses only 9-inning no-hitter of season, a 2-0
1997 - 79th PGA Championship: Davis Love III shoots a 269 at Winged Foot GC
AUG. 17 BIRTHDAYS
1913 - Rudy York, American baseball player (d. 1970)
1934 - Maureen Connally, champion tennis player (Wimbledon)
1940 - Thomas Williams, US, ice hockey play (Olympic-gold-1960)
1941 - Boog Powell, baseball player (AL MVP 1970)
1952 - Guillermo Vilas, Argentina, tennis champ (US Open-1977)
1952 - Nelson Piquet, auto racer, 3-time Formula One champ (1981, '83, '87)
1961 - Jamie Macoun, Newmarket, NHL defenseman (Toronto Maple Leafs)
1965 - Dottie Mochrie Pepper, Saratoga Springs NY, golfer (1992 Dinah Shore)
1968 - Ed McCaffrey, NFL wide reciever (Denver Broncos-Superbowl 32)
1969 - Christian Laettner, NBA forward/center (Atlanta Hawks, Oly-gold-92)
1969 - Ed Cunningham, NFL center (Arizona Cardinals)
1970 - Jim Courier, Sanford Florida, tennis champ (1990, 91 French)
1971 - Jorge Posada, Puerto Rican baseball player
1973 - Paul Wiggins, offensive linebacker (Pittsburgh Steelers)
1979 - Antwaan Randle El, American football player
1983 - Dustin Pedroia, American baseball player
1984 - Dee Brown, American basketball player
1986 - Rudy Gay, American basketball player
1986 - Tyrus Thomas, American basketball player