As the tipping point becomes a boiling point in the lockout of the officials, it’s important to remember that all of the blame doesn’t fall on the shoulders of the replacement officials.
The final play was reviewed, and the ruling on the field was upheld.
Under normal circumstances, the decision would be made exclusively by the referee. Now, with the non-replacement league supervisor in the replay booth along with the non-replacement replay official, the procedure has been, we’re told, blurred a bit, allowing the replacement referee to get input from the folks who otherwise would be saying, essentially, “Figure it out, Hochuli.”
If the non-replacement replay official and the non-replacement league supervisor didn’t tell the replacement referee to overturn the call, the non-replacements deserve a lot of the blame.
Make no mistake about it. This one could have been overturned. Rule 15, Section 9 makes the question of whether a pass was “ruled complete/incomplete/intercepted” subject to replay review, with no exception for questions of simultaneous possession.
Yeah, we know the ESPN call says simultaneous possession can’t be reviewed by replay. We disagree. If it wasn’t reviewable by replay, it wouldn’t have been reviewed by replay. It was, so it is. (The only aspect that isn’t reviewable is the question of whether Seahawks receiver Golden Tate pushed off before jumping, because pass interference is a judgment call.)
Still, while the replacement officials don’t deserve all of the blame, the current circumstance — with non-replacements in the replay booth having a hand in debacles like last night’s final play and Sunday’s replay gaffes in Minnesota and Tennessee — the system that the NFL has created via its effort to break the officials’ union has given rise to these errors, and so ultimately the league bears the blame for what we are witnessing.
That said, the locked-out officials should be blamed, too. After all, the members of the NFL Referees Association who moonlight as supervisors of officiating at major college conferences made clear that anyone who accepts a short-term assignment as a replacement official with the NFL will lose his regular college gig. And so the NFLRA has contributed to the low quality of the officiating that we are now experiencing by pressuring the second-best officials into not working for the NFL, as they did during the 2001 lockout.
Regardless of the blame, the time has come to get it done. If they don’t, the next step could be boycotts and assaults on NFL sponsors.