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NFL Replacement Officials Wear Out Welcome During Seahawks-Packers on MNF

The replacement refs Week 3 struggles were punctuated on Monday Night Football as one ref says touchdown, while the other signals to stop the clock. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

Everyone is talking about how poorly the replacement officials are doing, and I can’t say I’m surprised at how bad the first three weeks of the season have turned out. No one could have thought these refs, who are mostly from high school, junior college, or even arena football, could handle the speed and pressure of officiating on the national stage of the NFL. The preseason and Week 1 didn’t turn out too bad, but you also have to think most starters aren’t playing in the preseason, and Week 1 is where a lot of those very same players are shaking off some of the rust.

Weeks 2 and 3 have had different results.

The players figured out in Week 1 what they could get away with, and they have been getting away with plenty. While it can be argued that holding occurs on most plays in the NFL, the amount of blatant holding by offensive lines around the league is incomprehensible. On the defensive side, the refs don’t seem to understand the differences between illegal contact and pass interference. And far too many times the refs call completely opposite penalties leading everyone watching to believe what is most likely true — that these guys have no clue what they are doing on the field.

To blame these officials is futile. They were outmatched from the first whistle. They are being intimidated by coaches and players, and appear afraid to make a call. However, they’re only doing what they are supposed to do, and that’s be replacement officials while the owners continue to lock out the real officials. The real bad guys in this story are the owners and their puppet, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Just one year after the players were locked out by owners trying to line their pockets as much as possible, they’re doing the same to the officials. Instead of each owner coughing up roughly $100,000, which is chump change to them, they’re letting the league become a joke, with replacement officials who are flat out unqualified to officiate at this level. It’s baffling how the owners are so hesitant to make the right call to protect the game that has made them rich. They wanted to pinch pennies in regards to the players last year — you know, the guys who actually take all the risk and are the reason there is an NFL.

Now, they’re doing the same to the officials who maintain order between the sidelines every game. Skirmishes after the whistle are occurring more frequently as players continue to play chippy football because no one is disciplining them. Instead the coaches get fined for their reactions towards the fake refs. Now, there is no order.

This weekend in particular was absolutely terrible. In the game between the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots, both teams were on the receiving end of awful calls that swayed the momentum one way or the other. The game ended with a field goal that very well could have been ruled no good, but there was no explanation. Instead the officials sprinted off the field.

During the Pittsburgh Steelers and Oakland Raiders game, a chop block that went uncalled almost blew out the knee of Steelers’ defensive lineman Ziggy Hood. If the penalty was called as it should have been, the Raiders would have been bumped out of field goal range. Instead there was no call, and Sebastian Janikowski nailed the game winning field goal.

Last night was the icing on top of the cake. As everyone’s likely seen and heard from Monday night’s game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers, quarterback Russell Wilson threw a last minute hail mary into the endzone. Seattle receiver Golden Tate clearly pushed Packers’ defender Sam Shields, which should have been offensive pass interference and the game would have ended. Then Packers’ defensive back M.D. Jennings appeared to have intercepted the pass. As Jennings came down to the ground Tate attempted to grab the ball, but all replays show Jennings is in complete possession of the ball. The ruling should have either been offensive pass interference or an interception by Jennings, resulting in the game winning touchback. Instead the fake refs rule it to be simultaneous possession, awarding Tate and the Seahawks with the game winning touchdown. Absolutely unbelievable.

The sad thing is nothing will change. Steve Young said it best last Monday after the game when he stated that nothing will change because the demand for the NFL is “inelastic.” For instance, the Ravens and Patriots game did better in the ratings than the primetime Emmy’s. The fact is, America loves football and will watch it with real or replacement refs. The owners are sitting back watching this debacle unfold week after week, but they keep counting their cash and realize they are still making tons of money despite the poor officiating. All the fans, players, coaches, and media members will complain day after day that something needs to be done, but as long as the money keeps rolling in, why would the owners change anything?

Hopefully this all gets resolved soon because I’m sure I’m not the only one who is tired of watching these refs stumble their way through every game. If and when the lockout is resolved and the real officials return, just remember when we inevitably criticize the calls they make, that we can have it a hell of a lot worse.

About Steve Bastek - @sbastek12

Graduate of Bridgewater State University with a BA in Communication studies. I've been a Boston sports fan all my life and enjoy having the opportunity to write about it.

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3 comments for “NFL Replacement Officials Wear Out Welcome During Seahawks-Packers on MNF”

  1. Sounds like you’re a player’s guy. “The players take all the risk?”
    I guess you’ve never owned a business, because if you did you would know the majority of the risks are shared by the owners.

    Since you seem to think it’s all about the money. “The money to pay officials comes from a pot of $18 million funded by the league. The NFL wants an increase in the average salary for officials, who are part-time employees, from $149,000 to $189,000 by 2018. Referees (the head officials) and officials who qualify for postseason games would make more, the league said. The raises each year would fall between 5% and 11%, the league said. The officials have asked for more, but have not publicly disclosed how much.”
    How many people do you know that are getting between 5 & 11% raises? $149k to work 30 hours a week in season. That’s almost $6k a WEEK! $191 per hour part time! It’s not just about the money, there are other sticking points like retirement and reserve crews and hiring full time refs. At least that’s my understanding. Maybe somebody better informed than me can shed more light on the situation.

    Posted by O.W. | September 25, 2012, 9:39 pm
  2. While the owners may take a financial risk, they make all their money off the players who are on the field every week. In that sense yes I am a “players guy.”

    The owners money is apparent when you have Jerry Jones having people wipe his glasses for him. While the raise to the refs may seem like a lot, it’s definitely worth it because the integrity of the game is challenged each time these replacement officials step on the field. More money to the real officials is worth avoiding the unnecessary risk that is involved with the replacements.

    Is it going to take someone having their season ended on a cheap hit because these refs can’t control a game?

    Posted by Steve Bastek | September 25, 2012, 10:09 pm
  3. You’re a players guy in every sense of the word. You have a problem with owners trying to line their pockets with as much money as possible, but think it’s OK for the players or refs to line their pockets. Doesn’t seem right to me.

    I’ve read several blogs that are pushing for the NFL players to go on strike until the “real Refs” are back. I would love to see that. Solidarity! No football ha ha. Of course that will never happen because the NFLPA only looks out for its self. Not you, not me, not the fans and certainly not the refs. I’m done!

    Posted by O.W. | September 25, 2012, 10:35 pm

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