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Veteran official Mark Baltz decries “terrible” replacements’ mistakes

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Mark Baltz is heading into his 24th season as an NFL head linesman — or at least he will be, if the league and the NFL Referees’ Association can come to terms on a new contract. Baltz says that with his two dozen years of experience, he knows a badly officiated game when he sees one. And he saw one when he watched Sunday’s Rams-Colts preseason game.

Baltz (pictured getting an earful from Seahawks coach Pete Carroll) says he was alarmed by the mistakes he saw from the crew that worked Sunday’s game.

You can see they’re uneasy, late to react,” Baltz told the Indianapolis Star. “The head linesman is supposed to flow on pass plays when the quarterback drops back. The head linesman [Sunday] just stood there like a statue and never moved.”

Baltz said he saw an ugly series of mistakes before one play when the officials didn’t properly communicate with each other and didn’t seem to know what to call.

“They got together to decide whether it was a false start or a neutral-zone infraction, whether the guy got in the zone or not,” Baltz said. “They’re having this conference and, all of a sudden, here comes a flag from the back judge and he’s got delay of game. That was terrible.”

The NFL says it’s willing to start the season without the regular officials, but Baltz seems to doubt that.

“I don’t see that the players and owners will put up with this much longer,” Baltz said. “The integrity of the league, I think, is at stake. . . . They’ve got the greatest game going in professional sports. I just can’t understand why they’re tinkering with this, over some little economic problems.”

Those “little economic problems” may soon turn into much bigger public relations problems for the NFL if a mistake from a replacement ref costs a team a game.

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58 Responses to “Veteran official Mark Baltz decries “terrible” replacements’ mistakes”
  1. zoxitic says: Aug 14, 2012 3:51 PM

    All the preaseason games have been badly officiated. NFL, don’t ruin the integrity of the game. Pay for the best.

  2. gcsuk says: Aug 14, 2012 3:51 PM

    Maybe they can start complaining about Bill Leavy’s terrible mistakes while they’re at it.

  3. vbe2 says: Aug 14, 2012 3:54 PM

    Every NFL fan/announcer/analyst can decry “terrible” regular Refs mistakes.

  4. hart089 says: Aug 14, 2012 3:55 PM

    Like a regular Ref never made a mistake to cost a team a game?

  5. paulnoga says: Aug 14, 2012 3:56 PM

    No one is concerned about the mistakes except ex-officials and players trying to suck up to them for when they come back (like Cruz). The games will go on no matter which officials are there. The problem is the ex-officials want a pension. Forget it. They work part time and make enough money. The new officials are making mistakes, but it is for both teams evenly. The fans will want football, no matter who Refs.

  6. aircoryell says: Aug 14, 2012 3:59 PM

    So these guys don’t seem to have any problem at all doling out the criticism, going so far as to say officials should be removed when not performing competently.

    I actually agree with Baltz as long as he’s willing to require a certain performance level to maintain employment when the regular officials return.

    Oh, and I’m no expert, but looking at the picture with Petey tells me that he probably should find something else to make his point about the poor quality of the replacements. I’m guessing mobility isn’t his strength either.

  7. jared2020 says: Aug 14, 2012 4:00 PM

    I sure would love to see the regular refs back on the field…
    Having said that, I have a couple of suggestions:

    #1 We see how critical of the replacement refs performance these regular refs have been.. How about every Tuesday there is a performance review for all of the referees previous games? I think it would cut down on 90 % of these ticky tacky calls that impede the flow of the game. ( I am looking at you ED HOCULI).

    #2 Have some accountability for big time mistakes. Start fining refs for blatant missed calls, and obvious ref interference. Players get fined big time for accidentally nicking the QB’s helmet… Why not fine the refs for big time goof ups? ( smaller penalties of course…)

  8. mjkelly77 says: Aug 14, 2012 4:00 PM

    Gee, it’s not like he has a vested interest in this or anything. What did you expect him to say? “Hey, these guys are really pretty good and they’re only asking for a quarter of the pay and benefits that we’re asking for. Good deal.”

  9. bovice23 says: Aug 14, 2012 4:01 PM

    It’s not like he has a vested interest in this or anything..

  10. kattykathy says: Aug 14, 2012 4:04 PM

    Mr. Baltz;

    The replacement refs have been at the NFL level for 2 weeks and you are calling their calls “terrible”.

    You have been at the NFL level for 24 years, and your co-workers have been at the level for many years also, and I witness MANY “terrible” calls made by you and your cohorts…….. so what does that say about you?

    Face it, the current refs are just greedy. They have full time jobs, yet get paid a handsome retirement package and annual salary from the NFL for part time work that many people would kill for.
    Either go fulltime, or get out and let someone in who appreaciates the pay, perks, and benefits that you feel are inadequate.

  11. jcbadger34 says: Aug 14, 2012 4:04 PM

    “Those “little economic problems” may soon turn into much bigger public relations problems for the NFL if a mistake from a replacement ref costs a team a game.”

    ————

    Yeah, because that doesn’t already happen just about every week with the normal refs….cough Ed Hochuli cough……

    From what I’ve seen, the scab refs will usually make one or two completely boneheaded calls per game that wouldn’t be made by the normal refs, and they often take longer to make (or announce) a call because they’re afraid of getting something wrong. But in terms of total number of bad calls/mistakes? I don’t see much of a difference.

    The biggest joke is refs or their supporters in the press talking about how fans won’t be so happy when a scab misses a call and a player gets injured…..Did I miss something? Do the normal refs shoot James Harrison with a tranquilizer dart before he can get a dirty hit in? Does Ed Hochuli put Ndamukong Suh in a choke hold to keep him from trying to rip QBs heads off?

    No…..they throw flags after the dirty play (well, sometimes they do.)

  12. Patriot42 says: Aug 14, 2012 4:06 PM

    What else would you expect him to say?

  13. irishjugalo says: Aug 14, 2012 4:12 PM

    Get rid of ‘em all. Let’s go with the honor system. When I think of NFL athletes, I think high integrity anyway. Select either thumbs up or down if you’re with me.

  14. jredshoes says: Aug 14, 2012 4:12 PM

    The irony of all this is the biggest stumbling point to settle is the fact the NFL wants to add MORE officials to help combat sub par officiating crews.

  15. cruuuzcontrol says: Aug 14, 2012 4:13 PM

    I still can’t believe so many fans are indifferent to this mess. As bad calls start piling up, I expect the sentiment to change. A lot of the indifference seems to come from the fact that the real officials are not immune from making mistakes. That’s true, but such an argument is like comparing watching an NFL game to watching a high school game. Yeah, the game is pretty much the same, but the inexperience and lack of talent and skill makes for a far less pretty, more mistake-laden product. The real refs may not be perfect, but the replacements are a disaster waiting to happen to your favorite team.

  16. sportsworldforumscom says: Aug 14, 2012 4:14 PM

    The Refs think they’re Hot Stuff, when really no one gives a damn about them. No one goes to the game to watch the Refs. NO ONE! Who gives a crap about these little mistakes IN THEIR FIRST GAME! I hate these old Refs thinking their the best at their job and they never make mistakes. Truth is, they make mistakes ALL the time. Quit acting like a jealous ex girlfriend.

  17. angrylionsfan says: Aug 14, 2012 4:18 PM

    As a Lion’s fan I’m not entirely sure how to think they’ll get shafted by the replacement refs. Being a “dirty team” might mean they’ll get fined for breathing on the opposing QB. Or it might mean that all of the DIRTY OL play actually gets called on opposing teams too.

  18. thepnutgallery2011 says: Aug 14, 2012 4:19 PM

    No one turns on a game to watch officials. Mistakes happen, that is why replay exists. Bad calls will happen and are a part of the game. The NFL offer isn’t good enough to part-time employees in this economy? Two words to the sour grapes at the NFLRA: good riddance.

  19. sarcasticks says: Aug 14, 2012 4:20 PM

    The old refs do a generally terrible job, but they manage to keep the public confidence in the integrity of the game at an acceptable level. I fear that replacements would make so many significant mistakes that it risks turning the games into outrageous jokes.

    The NFL knows they need the old refs back, otherwise they would just send them all packing and refuse to negotiate if they believed replacements were a valid, permanent alternative.

  20. scrotiemcb says: Aug 14, 2012 4:20 PM

    Hilarious stuff. There aren’t a worse bunch of officials in pro sports than the NFL regulars. Some Sundays leave you wondering if a crew was on the take. So I remain puzzle how my grandmother, much less the ‘replacements’, could be much of a downgrade.

    Dig in, NFL!!! Dig in!

  21. djstat says: Aug 14, 2012 4:24 PM

    Are the mistakes any worse then the regular refs? NO. The NFL wants to hold refs accountable. The NFL wants to hire additional crews so they can “bench” a bad crew. The NFL wants full time officials. The Officials want to stay part time and get paid 6 figures. The part time officials feel entitled to Pensions.

    I for one am glad the NFL is holding their ground. The replacement refs cant be worse than the current refs.

  22. senetor24 says: Aug 14, 2012 4:29 PM

    The problem is the replacement refs are blowing calls you can see in real time. Sure the regular refs miss calls, but these guys are not in the same class. They are indecisive,not blowing plays dead, lining the ball up incorrectly, and not even calling PI.

  23. waitingguilty says: Aug 14, 2012 4:30 PM

    Just remember…for every team that loses a game, one wins.

    So half the fans will hate the replacements and half will love them.

    How is that any different than the regular refs?

  24. pakmanjones says: Aug 14, 2012 4:34 PM

    There should be the an equivalent level of scrutiny in evaluating the “real” officials when they return.

  25. brutus9448 says: Aug 14, 2012 4:38 PM

    I’m sure this guy didn’t come out of the womb already an NFL referee. He was educated and got practice. I’d rather have the old refs back there but after a few weeks I bet these new guys will be just as good.

  26. renhoekk2 says: Aug 14, 2012 4:39 PM

    The regular refs will miss (let go) holding or pass interference calls. That’s part of the game. I watched the Bills/Skins game that had a punt downed at the 4 yard line. After a minute or two somehow it was determined to be a touch back. The Bills had to use a coach’s challenge to get it reversed back to the 4yrd line. The ball and the player who downed it never even came close to the goal line. How it could have been a touch back is a mystery. If this happens during a regular season nationally televised game the NFL will become a bad joke.

  27. titansbro says: Aug 14, 2012 4:40 PM

    The refs had public opinion on their side until all this crap they started spewing. I mean, the replacement refs are not very good so far. I get that, but did the refs not think we would notice without them pointing out every mistake? It makes them look very bad. I mean, every mistake I’ve heard about so far I’ve seen regular refs make a hundred times before. They are shooting themselves in the foot.

    With all that said, the NFL does need to hire full-time refs & they do need to pay an adequate amount of money to get the best ones.

  28. steelfan1 says: Aug 14, 2012 4:44 PM

    Oh saved it Baltz, the reason why there is a stalmate between the NFL and the NFLRA is because the NFL wants the refs to become full time employees, instead of part-time.

    Even you started it Baltz, “They’ve got the greatest game going in professional sports.” Then why should a great sport only have part-time refs? The regular refs make bad mistakes also, so i have no problem with the growing pains in the pre-season.

  29. kingpel says: Aug 14, 2012 4:47 PM

    I’m not for the regular refs calling out their replacements. We all know how sensitive they are when it comes to having any accountability regarding their own work.

    How come when the playoffs roll in penalties seem to drastically decline? THAT is how I want ALL the games officiated. If you are not 100% certain about a call, keep the flag in your pocket!

  30. iamthorny says: Aug 14, 2012 4:48 PM

    At least the replacement officials do the coin toss better than “real” official, Phil Luckett.

  31. southpaw79 says: Aug 14, 2012 4:52 PM

    How about this. Give the old refs a pay raise , allow the NFL to add to the ranks of officials and increase training, have a weekly review of the refs performance, sit refs that are underperforming. What is so wrong with that?

  32. Getoffmylawn! says: Aug 14, 2012 4:57 PM

    Were those replacement refs when Megatron put the ball down in the endzone for a TD and it was called back? Talk about costing someone a game!
    Every year during the pre season I hear “It’s pre season for the Refs too. Give them some time and it will be fine.” I’m thinking something very similar here.

  33. norseyapper says: Aug 14, 2012 5:07 PM

    I don’t think the replacements are doing a great job but at least they have the excuse of being inexperienced. Give them a few weeks and I would hope their performance would greatly improve.
    Baltz meanwhile is the classic example of the problem with the regular refs. He’s old, fat, and arrogant.

  34. carolinacraig says: Aug 14, 2012 5:08 PM

    Let’s not forget we all have to deal with instant replay bogging down the game because the locked out refs consistently failed to do their job. They are so incompetent the league had to throw this hugely complex and time consuming technology into the game just to cover for their mistakes. The whole “we’re better than they are” dishonesty is falling on deaf ears with the fans.

  35. mwindle1973 says: Aug 14, 2012 5:13 PM

    During the Bengals Jets game they called the Bengals for lining a man up over C during a punt. That’s a penalty in college. Not in the NFL. They were slow and unsure about most calls. I don’t think a few more games is going to help either. You can just tell that the game is moving too fast for these refs.

  36. theralph2012 says: Aug 14, 2012 5:14 PM

    It’s Tim Tebows birthday today.

  37. cocoachip says: Aug 14, 2012 5:17 PM

    This season will require that the replacement ref play close attention to details, however officiating at this level can be a bit much for them. Even the seasoned regular refs makes mistakes. I suggest that for this season only there be a referendum decision via the instant replay system. Whenever there is a questionable call, the refs should review it on the camera. I know this may cost the game to move slower and at times it may be a momentum killer. But what other choices, unless we get the normal refs back this season there will be an asterisk mark for the winner of the Super Bowl and the playoff games. I think that they need all the help that they can get to be fair to both teams. What do you all think?

  38. bigbeefyd says: Aug 14, 2012 5:22 PM

    I have never, not once, sat down to watch a game and said “I wonder who the refs are?”.

  39. tdk24 says: Aug 14, 2012 5:25 PM

    Well well well, look who’s calling the kettle black! The nerve of these well paid part time jobbers. Late to react? That’s still better than too quick to react and negate a turnover because the whistle had been blown. Sure, they are going to make mistakes, it’s preseason. I thought they called a great game Monday night. Didn’t see any of the silver and black pre-prejudice that the locked out refs show on a weekly basis. I like refs juding a game based on whats happening in the moment, not by game tape and player rep from 35 years ago.

  40. tdk24 says: Aug 14, 2012 5:29 PM

    Can the NFL fine the locked out refs for criticizing the replacement refs?

  41. tasgmv says: Aug 14, 2012 5:37 PM

    I have seen the regular refs make mistakes all the time. But they never would make an idiotic mistake like calling a touchback on a punt that was downed at the 4 yard line. The ref was right there, threw his beanie down to signal ball down at 4.. Then called a touchback. The bills had to challenge the play and waste 3 minutes of everyone’s time on something my 14 month old daughter would have got right the first time.

  42. lezmaka says: Aug 14, 2012 5:47 PM

    I would LOVE to see this kind of public scrutiny happen with the “regular” officials. I don’t think it would be all that different.

  43. heimerz says: Aug 14, 2012 5:49 PM

    The regular officials make plenty of mistakes even with replay and are usually way too flag happy. There are also several games a year where the calls are so one sided that the only logical conclusion is that the refs are trying to directly influence the outcome. Bring on the replacements.

  44. bigdaddydooko says: Aug 14, 2012 5:55 PM

    Funny. His story of how the refs huddled together and didn’t seem to know what was going on reminded me of the 2005 AFC divisional playoff game between the Colts and Steelers. Both team’s lines jumped before the ball was snapped (way before the ball was snapped). The refs flew the flag, huddled together, then after some discussion announced that there was no foul on the play.

    I understand that the officials are trying to make their case by pointing out the replacement’s mistakes, but they should also realize that when they do come back the fans are going to criticize them even more than they did before.

  45. tigershark49 says: Aug 14, 2012 6:16 PM

    The regular officials made horrible mistakes, too!

  46. pftcensorssuck says: Aug 14, 2012 6:22 PM

    I look forward to Mark Baltz giving his weekly commentaries on blown calls by officials, if/when the “regular” ref’s come back to work…..

    what, don’t hold my breath???

  47. sullijo1 says: Aug 14, 2012 7:05 PM

    Thumbs up if you watch your favorite team as follows…..

    Your team runs for an 80 yard touchdown. While your friends are screaming for joy, you keenly focus on the “flag” area of the TV screen while listening for a “secondary set of whistles” and watching the actions of any referee in the TV shot closely. As a savvy fan, you’ve developed a “feel” for the amount of time before you can celebrate….it has come naturally from watching hundreds of games. This excruciating period of time seems like minutes, but is under 3 seconds. In your nervousness, you may even involuntarily utter “no flags, no flags?” in a question posed to no one which may also be coordinated with an arm movement that represents 1/2 of a “safe” call in baseball.

    Then, and only then, do you start celebrating!

  48. stew48 says: Aug 14, 2012 7:39 PM

    Someone said he never looked to see who the ref’s were when he turned on his TV. Let me tell you I did, and also when actually at the game. There was one referee, unnamed here, that always gave me a scare regarding his work. It seems strange, but he was a pet of the NFL. Not to me; way too many weird calls. And, it is not the aforementioned EC. Before him.

  49. patsfanvt says: Aug 14, 2012 9:17 PM

    While I’m sure that the replacement refs are worse than the regular refs, let’s realize that a former ref that is now locked out is being quoted

  50. sixburghrules says: Aug 14, 2012 9:20 PM

    This guy has been an official for 24 years (I think) he is supposed to be a seasoned veteran and knowledgable of the rules and how to conduct himself on the worlds stage. I am sure he has made mistakes when he was younger and he probably doesn’t see as well as he used to (no glasses) so I am sure he isn’t any better than the replacements. He is just whining that his retirement income gonna take a hit this year! Geez this guy gets at least 64K for 4 months and if he ref playoffs its a bonus! Plus he gets travel pay, hotel room & meals! The guy is making more than I am and I work a full 12 months! Quit your whining!

  51. sixburghrules says: Aug 14, 2012 9:23 PM

    sullijo1 says: Aug 14, 2012 7:05 PM

    Thumbs up if you watch your favorite team as follows…..

    Your team runs for an 80 yard touchdown. While your friends are screaming for joy, you keenly focus on the “flag” area of the TV screen while listening for a “secondary set of whistles” and watching the actions of any referee in the TV shot closely. As a savvy fan, you’ve developed a “feel” for the amount of time before you can celebrate….it has come naturally from watching hundreds of games. This excruciating period of time seems like minutes, but is under 3 seconds. In your nervousness, you may even involuntarily utter “no flags, no flags?” in a question posed to no one which may also be coordinated with an arm movement that represents 1/2 of a “safe” call in baseball.

    Then, and only then, do you start celebrating!
    ________________________________

    What do you think the replay booth does?

  52. sixburghrules says: Aug 14, 2012 10:26 PM

    pftcensorssuck says: Aug 14, 2012 6:22 PM

    I look forward to Mark Baltz giving his weekly commentaries on blown calls by officials, if/when the “regular” ref’s come back to work…..

    what, don’t hold my breath???
    ————————————————————

    IF the old ref’s get back on the field I want them to critique each other every week and be HONEST about it! right now they are just nit-picking! Just trying to make them selves justifiable which in my mind I question that

  53. prplpuzzetrz says: Aug 14, 2012 10:36 PM

    What I find interesting? Maybe I am over-thinking , but it seems awfully coincidental to have a new rule change this off season , making every scoring play & turnover reviewable , knowing this lockout was imminent! If the nfl knew this fight was coming, making this rule change , really makes it an even playing field. There may be Ticky-tacky mistakes, but the “big” game changing ones, will be reviewable making a total disaster less likely!
    I say keep the scabs, they are doing great! Considering , soon they will be just as good, and those greedy tools can go back to their “day” jobs!

  54. Canned Heat says: Aug 14, 2012 10:58 PM

    renhoekk2 says:Aug 14, 2012 4:39 PM

    The regular refs will miss (let go) holding or pass interference calls. That’s part of the game. I watched the Bills/Skins game that had a punt downed at the 4 yard line. After a minute or two somehow it was determined to be a touch back. The Bills had to use a coach’s challenge to get it reversed back to the 4yrd line. The ball and the player who downed it never even came close to the goal line. How it could have been a touch back is a mystery. If this happens during a regular season nationally televised game the NFL will become a bad joke.
    __________________________________

    If the player that downed the ball performed an illegal batting/touching or kicked the ball or was first to touch the ball first after he was out of bounds legally or illegally and first to touch the ball, it’s illegal touching…and a touchback. Only in the NFL…high school and college are different enforcements.

    The donkey that mentioned these hacks being as good as the fulltime pros is a hoot. That’s no different than saying Ed from the mailroom could come and replace you in your office and pick up the job you’ve had for 10 or 20 years seamlessly in a few weeks.

    And…the officials do get rated and downgraded or released after multiple mistakes, and they have weekly reviews with the New York office via conference calls with the whole crew. You guys live with the pressure in that presence and the death threats and the travel BS and tell me they’re really asking too much from the most lucrative sport in the world…..no different than your favorite player holding out.

    5 words. This. Will. Break. Bad. Yet.

  55. packerfantastic says: Aug 14, 2012 11:48 PM

    The NFLRA better be careful or their mistakes will come under greater scrutiny – like Ed Hochuli blowing a fumble call a few years back that cost the Chargers a game against the Broncos, or how about the ridiculous call on the Calvin Johnson catch against the bears a couple of years ago and all of the other similar screw up since then.

  56. gadzod says: Aug 15, 2012 12:29 AM

    As bad as the replacement refs will be, they never missed calling a touchback when the player downed it at the 4 yard line…..

  57. ncarolinarn7 says: Aug 15, 2012 4:38 PM

    Fire Roger (Nero) Goodell. Bring transparency and fairness with sound judgement back to the NFL. Where’s a Pete Rozelle or Paul Tagliabu type when you need one?

  58. richc111 says: Aug 15, 2012 8:22 PM

    Well I am sure that Baltz is completely impartial and have no bias at all.

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