“[T]he game is played the way the game is played, but there’s some serious calls the refs missed,” Lewis said in the locker room, via WNST.net. “And that’s just the way it is, man, all around the league. And that, for our league to be what it is, we have to correct that. Because these games are critical. And guys are giving everything they got all across the league, but there are calls that the regular refs, if they were here, we know the way calls would be made. For the conversations to be had the way they had on the sidelines saying ‘If the real refs were here, that could would have been made.’ That shouldn’t happen. That shouldn’t be the case around the league. But it is. And we have to deal with it.”
Lewis then complained specifically about a decision to reverse a call on the field that Eagles quarterback Mike Vick had fumbled the ball when trying to throw it. And that’s where Lewis undermined his broader point, because it’s clear that Vick was trying to throw the ball. Indeed, he was able to flick his wrist and put a partial spiral on the supposed fumble.
But Ray’s message seems to reflect a growing sentiment among players that the regular officials should return. “The time is now,” Lewis said. “How much longer are we gonna keep going through this whole process? I don’t have the answer, I just know across the league teams and the league are being affected by it. It’s not just this game, it’s all across the league. And so if they want the league to have the same reputation it’s always had, they’ll address the problem. Get the regular referees in here and let the games play themselves out. We already have controversy enough with the regular refs calling the plays.”
As more high-profile players speak out, the question becomes whether more will do the same — and whether a tipping point will eventually be reached. Until then, look for the league to continue to hunker down, circle the wagon, and wait for the locked-out officials to cry uncle.