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Ex-ref Ben Dreith: Replacements are doing a good job

Cowboys Giants Football AP

NFL referees, both those who are currently locked out and their retired predecessors, have been nearly unanimous in harshly criticizing the replacement officials. But Ben Dreith is an exception.

Dreith, who officiated in the NFL and AFL for 31 years, is best known for once turning on his microphone and saying, “Personal foul on 99 of the defense: After he tackled the quarterback he’s givin’ them the business down there. That’s a 15-yard penalty.” Now 87 years old, Dreith lives in Denver and says he watches every Broncos game, and he said he believes Broncos coach John Fox has gone too far in giving the officials the business on the sideline.

They’re doing a good job and they’re going to get better every game,” Dreith told the Denver Post. “Now, I watched both [Broncos] games and I watched the preseason, and they cannot tell me, Fox cannot tell me, this reporter can’t tell me, that they did anything to lose a ballgame for somebody. The coaches and the press never should have started this in the first place about the officials unless something drastically happened where one of the replacement officials lost a ballgame for somebody.”

Dreith pointed out that not losing a ballgame for somebody is something that Ed Hochuli, one of the NFL’s highest-profile referees and a former president of the NFL Referees Association, can’t claim: Hochuli wrongly ruled a play dead in a 2008 Chargers-Broncos game, handing Denver a win that should have gone to San Diego.

“He blew the whistle at the wrong time, and that is the cardinal sin in officiating,” Dreith said. “He lost a ballgame for San Diego. These officials have never lost a ballgame for anybody.”

That’s exactly the message the NFL will want to keep repeating. Until the replacements do lose a ballgame for somebody.

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47 Responses to “Ex-ref Ben Dreith: Replacements are doing a good job”
  1. ocdn says: Sep 22, 2012 11:43 AM

    This proves some refs are blind.

  2. logicalthinkersays says: Sep 22, 2012 11:44 AM

    That call he made is legendary. Pretty sure it has north 1 million hits on Youtube. Can’t believe he’s 87!

  3. beedubyatoo says: Sep 22, 2012 11:45 AM

    Define “good”, Ben.

  4. dmlonghorn says: Sep 22, 2012 11:48 AM

    Ex-ref… Has he actually SEEN any of these games?

  5. crazybeardedjack says: Sep 22, 2012 11:48 AM

    Yes! Thank you! Hochuli is one of the worst, if not THE worst “regular” official working today (Maybe Jeff Triplette is his equal). Ask any former player about Ed Hochuli and they’ll tell you Hochuli is a wanna-be player who spends his days in the gym and wears shirts 2 sizes too small to fit in with the guys he’ll never be. Personally, the best part of this official’s lockout has been not having to see Ed Hochuli or hear his long winded, overwrought descriptions of his calls that are only right about half the time.

  6. spellingcops says: Sep 22, 2012 11:50 AM

    They may not have “cost” a game for anyone, but they damn sure affected some. In the Broncos falcons game they awarded a fumble to Atlanta that was recovered by the Broncos. They also called a phantom pi on a crucial third down. Those two calls alone could have easily changed the outcome of that game.

  7. ravenmuscle says: Sep 22, 2012 11:50 AM

    Good for you BEN…..these locked refs are asking for far too much and the league will hold their ground and make these money grabbing clowns CRACK and come back to work with their tails between their legs.

    Here’s to the owners and Goodell to stand firm.
    They only need 61 of these turkeys to break rank and get back to work and accept the league’s offer.

  8. kabasaman says: Sep 22, 2012 11:51 AM

    I wonder if Rodger asked him to speak? That’s my guess.

  9. linvillegorge says: Sep 22, 2012 11:54 AM

    Well, he didn’t notice that it was #93, not #99 in the linked clip, so not sure how much confidence we should have in his observations.

  10. dldove77 says: Sep 22, 2012 11:58 AM

    At 87…still wise. Bad calls happen from at all levels of officiating. Imagine the uproar if a replacement umpire had cost a pitcher a perfect game? You’d never hear the end of it. That guy didn’t even lose his job. This thing will play itself out and they’ll all still make more money than most of the rest of us.

  11. kattykathy says: Sep 22, 2012 12:01 PM

    I have to agree with Mr. Dreith

    The replacements have not been much worse than the regular officials. The problem is with the asinine rules: No hard hitting, no hard tackling, a completed catch is not really a completed catch, etc.

    Agree also: The replacements have not cost some team a game yet like Mr. Biceps did.

    i will pass on the opportunity to make a comment in regards to “givin’ them the business down there” ;)

  12. armchairqb says: Sep 22, 2012 12:04 PM

    This just in: Ben Dreith has not watched an NFL game since he retired.

  13. sfbla says: Sep 22, 2012 12:06 PM

    The entire “debate” is flawed from the start. Media & coaches act as if the regular officiating was fantastic when in reality it was extremely suspect as well. The regular officials definitely know the procedures better & their replacements do slow the game down a bit but that should improve with practice. What I am enjoying is the lack of privilege that certain players and teams had enjoyed in the past. The regular officials made calls based on names and logos far too often – the replacements call it like they see it regardless of who is comitting a penalty. The complaints about missed & blown calls is similarly flawed. It’s not like the regular officials were anything close to perfect either. Many of the replacements are also far more fit than the regulars and do a better job of moving with the game. Time to stop whining and just play the darn game.

  14. j0esixpack says: Sep 22, 2012 12:08 PM

    Dreith is correct.

    I mean it’s not like any of the replacement refs blew a roughing the passer call on a critical third down stop in the playoffs that proved to be the pivotal play of a game, that replays later proved involved no illegal contact, resulting in the ref being banned from officiating that team’s games for the next decade.

    As long as they avoid doing that, Dreith will think they are doing pretty well.

  15. marima07 says: Sep 22, 2012 12:14 PM

    Ben Dreith is the most qualified former referee to identify bad penalty calls.

    He was kept from refereeing any New England games for 11 years, after calling a bogus roughing-the-passer penalty in 1976 during a playoff game against the Raiders.

  16. denverdave3 says: Sep 22, 2012 12:19 PM

    For crying out loud. This is not that tough a job. There are many thousands of refs around the country and the difference between the very best and the next tier is not that substantial. If the current guys want to walk away from the game forever, who cares? It’s just a matter of time before the next group is up to speed. They only have to watch a few guys at a time. most average fans can do that.

  17. SilentMajority says: Sep 22, 2012 12:20 PM

    I think that if you look at every play, of every game as a whole, I think you have to say that they have done a great job. Sure you can cherry pick examples of their mistakes, and there have been a few, but you can hardly argue that they have been a disaster.

    I bet when the regular refs come back people will be complaining about their calls too!

  18. smith62477 says: Sep 22, 2012 12:21 PM

    Says the Ref who blew a huge call in the 1976 Playoff game between New England and Oakland.

  19. countyk66ers says: Sep 22, 2012 12:28 PM

    Its what the replacers are not calling that is the problem.

  20. wte1 says: Sep 22, 2012 12:32 PM

    Ben Dreith knows a lot about refs costing a team a win as he cost New England a playoff win against Oakland in 1976 on a phantom roughing the passer against Ray Hamilton.

    Dreith is despised in New England.

  21. packhawk04 says: Sep 22, 2012 12:34 PM

    That last line is what everyone needs to remember… the best of the regular refs has blatantly lost a game for a team. These replacements have not.

  22. japmen says: Sep 22, 2012 12:35 PM

    I’ve found the coaches views to express it best. Several have compalined that they don’t know how to ‘work’ the new olfficials and it’s affected how they coach. I’m sure coaches like Belichick whose QB cannot be hit aren’t as happy as before. I know after watching Manning, Fox needs something to distract the masses.

  23. dionoil says: Sep 22, 2012 12:36 PM

    What I don’t get is why we’re holding the replacements to a higher standard. The regulars have never lived under this kind of microscope

  24. hutch119 says: Sep 22, 2012 12:42 PM

    In the Broncos falcons game they awarded a fumble to Atlanta that was recovered by the Broncos.

    It is who has the ball in the pile when the refs make the ruling. Unless you were there looking in the pile you don’t know this.

    They also called a phantom pi on a crucial third down.

    If you were watching the game you would know this was on 2nd down not 3rd.

    Denver had a few questionable calls go their way as well, the refs did not cost them that game their poor play did.

  25. musicman495 says: Sep 22, 2012 12:57 PM

    Sounds like Roger Goodell gave Ben a call and told him to give his former colleagues the business.

  26. dallascowboysdishingthereal says: Sep 22, 2012 1:01 PM

    Dreith right. Doing a pretty good job out there.

  27. mogogo1 says: Sep 22, 2012 1:01 PM

    If the regular refs had ever been under the scrutiny the replacements have been, they’d all have been fired years ago. Can you imagine the outcry if a replacement pulled a Hochuli and outright cost somebody the game with a bad call? He’d never see the field again.

    Yet, somehow, Hochuli didn’t just hold onto his job, he continued to be one of the leading officials. And that’s why I support replacement refs, to eliminate the atmosphere where huge mistakes weren’t just excused, but were basically rewarded.

  28. chesslungo says: Sep 22, 2012 1:04 PM

    Amen Ben. The only people that complain about the refs are people that have had disagreements with the NFL like members of the NFLPA. And fans of piss poor teams

  29. jibberator says: Sep 22, 2012 1:38 PM

    Poor logic Dreith, just because a game hasn’t been outright lost in the last 2 minutes doesn’t mean that the outcome has not changed. You’re looking at a sample of how many seasons compared to 3 WEEKS?

    The amount of bad calls, missed calls, and mismanagement of player conduct in such a short period is asanine. If you let them run a full season, playoff games and a superbowl? Its going to get ugly.

  30. sampulls says: Sep 22, 2012 2:00 PM

    Fire the locked out refs. These new guys are just as good.

  31. khuxford says: Sep 22, 2012 2:02 PM

    So, that wrongly called fumble in a one score game definitely didn’t cost a game for someone? Broncos had it at the start and when the pile cleared.

  32. laeaglefan says: Sep 22, 2012 2:02 PM

    The only thing different I’ve really noticed between the replacement refs and the regular ones is that the games seem to take longer….by 15 or 20 minutes, compared to the regular officials. I attribute that to indecisiveness and the need for a lot of conferences between the officials to figure out the correct call.
    I can’t say that the replacement officials have made any more calls that don’t seem right than the regular officials do.

  33. senky3 says: Sep 22, 2012 2:17 PM

    the people complaining about the refs are the same people that complained about the old refs. or just want to shoot their mouths off and don’t actually watch games. the rep reps are getting better every week. this is scaring the reg refs because they either come back now, admitting defeat, or see the possibility of not playing

  34. augsburg12 says: Sep 22, 2012 2:21 PM

    Thanks to the replacement refs I’m able to watch football. Just ask a hockey fan how it feels not to have the sport you love PLAYING. All I ask is do the best you can and they are.

  35. pb420 says: Sep 22, 2012 2:22 PM

    As a Bucs fan, I can recall @ least 2 games where the ”real” refs blew games for us b/c of crap playcalling. Both times the NFL offered an apology the following wk. Absolutely infuriating, and a joke that these greedy pigs want more money for part-time status. We’ll live w the replacements, and they’re getting better despite what the biased media wants you to believe.
    BTW, the fact that NE doesn’t care for Ben Dreight makes me like him even more. You all should be absolutely ashamed of your performance against a kevin Kolb led offense last sun. Lots of ppl lost $$ because of that suspect effort @ home. No excuses, just pathetic.

  36. sariff420 says: Sep 22, 2012 2:38 PM

    How about the Calvin Johnson non catch TD vs. The Bears a year or so ago ?

  37. aljack88 says: Sep 22, 2012 3:50 PM

    marima07 says:
    Sep 22, 2012 12:14 PM
    ….He was kept from refereeing any New England games for 11 years, after calling a bogus roughing-the-passer penalty in 1976 during a playoff game against the Raiders.

    ——————————————————
    The only ref I’ve ever heard or read of that had such a stipulation put in place. What a P.O.S.
    It was more than just Sugar Bear’s bogus roughing the passer penalty that ruined that game, though that was the topper. Phil Villapiano was quoted as saying he was holding Russ Francis all game long; “they never called it so I kept doing it”. While out on a pass route, George Atkinson threw an elbow into Francis’s head, breaking his nose – no penalty. Sam Cunningham ran out of bounds late in the 4th quarter where the 1st down marker WAS, but came up 1 yard short? The Pats’ center, Bill Lenkaitis, was called for holding 3 or 4 times after going the whole season without 1 holding penalty; including the raiders only loss that year, a 48-17 whipping by the Patriots. It’s said that Drieth did another Pats game in 87 or later but I’m sure it wasn’t in Foxboro if he did; I know it would have been after Sugar Bear Hamilton was off the coaching staff.

  38. frank booth says: Sep 22, 2012 4:22 PM

    denverdave3 says:
    Sep 22, 2012 12:19 PM
    For crying out loud. This is not that tough a job. There are many thousands of refs around the country and the difference between the very best and the next tier is not that substantial. If the current guys want to walk away from the game forever, who cares? It’s just a matter of time before the next group is up to speed. They only have to watch a few guys at a time. most average fans can do that.
    ====================================

    Dave- are you the same kind of guy that watches a baseball hit a home run off a 100mph fastball and say that that isn’t too hard to do?

    I’m curious about your experiences as you moved up the referee ladder to the NFL. What kind of differences were there, what kind of game prep you had to do at the various levels, the changes of speed at different levels, and the stress and dealing with criticism at each level. Please elaborate.

    It’s easy to criticize the referees as an average fan. We have the benefit of hindsight, multiple angles, close-ups, instant replay, and slow motion angles. The referees on the field have none of those, have one shot and an instant to make a call and have to see through 300 pound moving bodies at field level to make these calls.

    I’d love to see an average fan on the field making trying to make these calls. It would make for great and hilarious reality TV.

    And if they can’t get an even an above-average or average fan to do it, maybe you could take a shot at it.

  39. pastabelly101 says: Sep 22, 2012 4:49 PM

    For all you “Tuck rule” whining Raider fans you can read these Ben Drieth comments and see how the Pats got completely screwed against the raiders in 1976. The Patriots were the far superior team that year, having pounded the raiders earlier and completely outplaying them until the phantom roughing the passer call. The tuck was payback for that injustice, as well as the felonious assault committed against Darrel Stingley 2 years later by the ultimate raider dirtbag Jack Tatum

  40. aljack88 says: Sep 22, 2012 4:50 PM

    pb420 says:
    Sep 22, 2012 2:22 PM

    BTW, the fact that NE doesn’t care for Ben Dreight makes me like him even more. You all should be absolutely ashamed of your performance against a kevin Kolb led offense last sun. Lots of ppl lost $$ because of that suspect effort @ home. No excuses, just pathetic.
    ——————————————————–
    You lost money on a NFL wager so now Drieth’s mishandling of a playoff game 26 years ago is ok?

  41. franktherat96 says: Sep 22, 2012 4:52 PM

    Was the last time he called a game before the forward pass was put in….lol Seriously though…..he obviously is in denial or something because these replacement refs are horrible.

  42. raideralex99 says: Sep 22, 2012 4:58 PM

    What happens if the regulars refs do come back?
    Do they screw the teams that talked bad about him or even worst give the teams a break who supported them.
    I bet the if the Cowboys played the Ravens with the regular refs … Jone’s Cowboys would be flagged a lot more than the Ravens.

  43. frank booth says: Sep 22, 2012 5:39 PM

    pb420 says:
    Sep 22, 2012 2:22 PM
    As a Bucs fan, I can recall @ least 2 games where the ”real” refs blew games for us b/c of crap playcalling. Both times the NFL offered an apology the following wk. Absolutely infuriating, and a joke that these greedy pigs want more money for part-time status. We’ll live w the replacements, and they’re getting better despite what the biased media wants you to believe.
    BTW, the fact that NE doesn’t care for Ben Dreight makes me like him even more. You all should be absolutely ashamed of your performance against a kevin Kolb led offense last sun. Lots of ppl lost $$ because of that suspect effort @ home. No excuses, just pathetic.
    ==================================

    How are these guys greedy pigs? Because they want their pensions that the NFL originally promised them? Because they are important pieces to a billion dollar industry whose job it is to protect the leagues most important assets?

    You can recall 2 games over how many years where the regular refs blew calls that may have cost a the Bucs a game- but you can tell everything will be OK after 2 games with the replacements, even though a game last week got dangerously out-of-control with the replacements (Oh wait, I didn’t really see that, it’s just the biased media telling me what to believe).

    Apparently you’ve missed some of the ridiculous blown calls, the late flags, and the long times it sometimes takes to make calls. But you’re OK with a bunch of replacements learning on the fly in a billion dollar business.

  44. chi01town says: Sep 22, 2012 5:48 PM

    The real refs need to come back now!! The replacement refs are not prepaired for superstar players an coaches.

  45. jollyjoker2 says: Sep 22, 2012 6:37 PM

    The original refs turned down 200 k per year sounds like a pretty good gig as a part time job…. The folks here who think the games were any fairer under the old regime’ are deluding themeselves. Holding can be called any and every play. We all know that nothing was called on N.O in the playoffs as players were paid to take out favre. Some of the so called “insulted with replacemnts” guys here need to get a life. Unlike the olden days, every touchdown and turnover has challenge flags and review. What more do you folks want? Maybe reviews of each play and turn a 2 hour game into a 5 hours circus.

  46. frank booth says: Sep 22, 2012 7:30 PM

    jollyjoker2

    It has less to do with the salary than it does the pension issue.

    The difference right now between the refs and the NFL is about 100,000 per team per season in an industry that has between 6 and 9 billion in revenues per year. The profits are reportedly over 1 billion per year.

    So the package that the referees are asking for comes to something just north of 1.5% of profits per year.

  47. bucsfan5000 says: Sep 23, 2012 11:03 AM

    Neither side is backing down. There’ll be replacement refs for the whole season. I could see them blowing a call in the Super Bowl that changes the whole outcome.

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