Fans will continue to complain about bad calls made by the NFL’s replacement officials, but fans are powerless to end the NFL’s lockout of its regular officials. Coaches and general managers complaining about bad calls, however, could be enough to persuade the owners to do what it takes to bring back the regular refs.
That’s the word from former NFL head of officiating Mike Pereira, who said on the Dan Patrick Show that he doesn’t believe the owners and the league office are going to bring back the best officials just to placate the fans. What needs to happen is for coaches and general managers to speak up and say that second-rate officiating is unacceptable.
“The pressure of fans being unhappy is not going to solve this issue,” Pereira said. “If there’s real movement by the league I think it’s going to have to be that coaches step up and GMs step up because of mistakes that are being made that they feel like the regular officials won’t make on Sundays. That, to me, is where the pressure is going to come from that will force the league to move. And if it doesn’t, this is going to go on for a long time.”
The NFL knows that fans love football enough that we’re going to watch the games no matter who the officials are. And so the owners aren’t concerned that angering the fans by locking out the officials could affect their bottom lines. But if the owner has his head coach and his general manager in his office, telling him, “These refs are going to cost us a game,” that might be a message that gets the owner to act.
If the majority of the owners get that message, we might see the NFL decide to meet the regular officials’ demands. If not, we may have replacement officials well beyond Week One.