With the NFL doing its best to whistle past the graveyard as it pertains to the issue of replacement refs, they’re ignoring the fact they seem to be the only ones willing to believe it’s not an issue.
Owners may keep saying it’s not a big deal, but coaches who have been expressly warned not to make it an issue keep talking.
Now the players are chiming in.
In a Sporting News poll of 146 players from 29 teams, 132 (90.4 percent) said games would be negatively impacted by the use of replacement officials.
Of those 132, 71 said the game would “suffer greatly” while 61 said there would be a “marginal” difference.
Only 14 players in the survey thought it would not impact the game.
The poll included a collection of quotes from anonymous players, but Lions defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch was willing to put his name on his thoughts.
“It’s hard for guys who’ve been officiating for 10, 12, 15 years in the NFL to get it right, and there’s so much going on and so many rules changes that it’ll be difficult if there’s guys that have no experience coming in and officiating games,” he said. “And with the big emphasis on player safety and the changes to player safety, as a player you want to make sure that you have capable officials that get it right.”
If more players were willing to do what Vanden Bosch did, it might make a difference.
Until then, the league has no compelling reason to not keep leaning on the regular officials to take a deal they don’t want, simply because it can.