Talk continues about replacement officials, but still no action

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With the start of the regular season only eight days away and no signs of any progress toward ending the lockout of the game officials, more players are talking but there’s still no evidence that the NFLPA will be taking any action.

“I’ve said before that on a scale of 1 to 10, I think this is a 12,” NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith told the New York Times.  “With the regular season approaching, my level of concern is only increasing.”

While that concern undoubtedly won’t give rise to a player walkout, it’s somewhat surprising that the increasingly-litigious NFLPA hasn’t taken some type of legal action aimed at forcing the league to fix this.

Players generally have not affirmatively been speaking out.  The Times article from Sam Borden collects sound bites from various players who expressed concern in response to questions from the media.  Borden properly balanced things out with the league’s sound bites about the replacements doing a “credible” job, with some refreshing candor.

“We will not come out and say they are without their warts, but we will say that we’ve seen improvement every week,” NFL V.P. of football operations Greg Anderson told the Times.  “At the end of it, we are very confident that this group of current officials will be credible.”

Observers of the game generally are less confident.  If we assume that the NFL has hired the best of the best officials, the NFL necessarily will be using something less than the best of the best, if the best of the best are locked out.  Why play Russian Roulette with the safety of the players and the integrity of the game?

Of course, not everyone feels that way.  And it’s spawned what could be the first documented case of Yahoo-on-Yahoo crime.  Says Doug Farrar:  “[T]he NFL’s replacement officials are turning the nation’s most popular and visible sport into a complete and utter joke.”  Says Jason Cole:  “The argument that NFL owners are messing with the integrity of the game in their negotiation with the NFL Referees Association is laughable.”

Cole asks, “When was the last time you went to a game and said, ‘Boy, that officiating was great’?”

It happens roughly as often as anyone goes to a game and says the long-snapping or the holding was great.  The officials are part of the infrastructure that is supposed to exist in the background.  We shouldn’t applaud the officiating.  We shouldn’t notice it all.

The replacement officials are making us notice them, because they are making mistakes not only in the heat of the play but after the whistle is blown.  The stage is simply too big for many of them.  The challenge for the league remains getting them comfortable, quickly.  As folks who are used to maneuvering around smaller, slower players with dozens of fans in the stands, the replacements need to get past the awe that Maximus and company experienced when they walked into the Coliseum for the first time.

Through three weeks, the magnitude of the games continues to invade the brains of folks who should be able to get the spot right and mark of penalties correctly and not call a touchback on a punt when the ball clearly was downed in the field of play.  Our point continues to be that, regardless of who’s being unreasonable in the negotiations, the stewards of the game need to work this out.

That includes the locked-out officials.  If they truly care about the game, they’ll find a way bridge the divide.  And if the best offer the NFL has made ultimately isn’t good enough, they can always find another hobby for which they receive a ton of money.

Well, maybe they can’t.

21 responses to “Talk continues about replacement officials, but still no action

  1. Let me become a ref — in other words, let me become a ref so I can call holding, clipping or offensive/defensive pass interference penalties on the Patriots and Steelers on every single down in every single game I participate in.

  2. I don’t know if more players are being injured in these games officiated by the scabs, but I know that the games are messed up. That play where they called a touchback was just ridiculous. You would think even a div. 3 guy would know that rule.

    They look like a bunch of 12-year-olds that stole their dads’ cars and are trying to negotiate New York City traffic: Scared and in way over their heads.

  3. Why are major college, FBS level officials not allowed to work for the NFL? I’m sure it’s been addressed in the media, but I guess I missed it.

  4. Its a low bar to jump for the replacement officials to become as credible as the locked-out refs.

  5. I think people are unecessarily piling on the replacement refs. I remember PLENTY of gaffes from the regular officials. From the botched coin toss in Detroit to Ed Hochuli singlehandedly winning a game for the Broncos over the Chargers (and don’t even get me started on the quality of officiating in Super Bowl 40), the regulars have had more than their fair share of errors.

  6. The NFL is going to grow in popularity and make more money regardless of who is officiating. I don’t see the league caving anytime soon.

    It’s sad, but true.

  7. I can’t see where more people are injured or likely to be injured. That’s a red herring thrown in because it makes the objection to replacement officials seem completely justified. The REAL problem with the replacement officials is that they are dragging the game out interminably… They have too many long conferences after the whistle. I think they are missing some calls too of course, but they aren’t erring on any particular side of safety issues.

  8. The new nfl refs will be just fine. The last refs didn’t do anything better I can tell you that. Just look at the NFC title game with N.O and the vikes. There are tons of examples. If I was the main guy, I would tell the players to shut their pie hole or else. If players want to whine, fine the he ll out of them and put it toward the official’s salaries.

  9. sactogary says:
    Aug 28, 2012 2:30 PM
    Why are major college, FBS level officials not allowed to work for the NFL? I’m sure it’s been addressed in the media, but I guess I missed it.
    The Division 1 college officials are under contract and will have to report for their own season soon. The current replacement refs will be able to work as long as needed.

  10. Hmmm. The players “union” is worried about officiating… Don’t “unions” stick up for other “unions”? If the NFLPA was really concerned, they could threaten a strike until their “union brothers” get paid.

    But they won’t do that because they are not a union – they are a bunch of whiny millionaires. The NFLPA could raise “union” dues to make up the difference between what the NFL is offering and what the refs want, and not one player will go hungry or have to seel a car to make ends meet. But they don’t really care about officiating or the quality of the game that makes them rich.

  11. electionconfidential says:Aug 28, 2012 4:29 PM

    sactogary says:
    Aug 28, 2012 2:30 PM
    Why are major college, FBS level officials not allowed to work for the NFL? I’m sure it’s been addressed in the media, but I guess I missed it.
    The Division 1 college officials are under contract and will have to report for their own season soon. The current replacement refs will be able to work as long as needed.
    Division II officials are currently in use. Will they have to quit when their own season starts?

  12. Both the locked out and interim officials will make mistakes. The NFL should use this lockout to move more responsibility to the booth so that they get all the calls right. Not only does that help the integrity of the game as all the calls would be right, it avoids this pointless bickering of which refs suck less at their job.

  13. The heat is on the NFL regarding the officials and the broadcast teams for all games and all the studio hosts are yelling about the officials. I do agee errors have been made but look at the past years with the real refs and more then a few errors have been made but passed over because nobody can complain about them and like baseball umps they do not have a fear of losing their jobs. I will focus on one error duing the Denver/Chargers game and one of the best known refs blew the call big time, if that happened today the sky would fall with these current guys.

  14. Yea, It’s pretty simple… The NFL is the alpha, omega, the beginning and the end when it comes to how many is distributed after it’s been generated. The players found that out almost too late, and it’s better the refs figure this out, sooner rather than later.

  15. A lot of players are making negative comments about the referees on Twitter, but there really isn’t much of a player safety argument with the new referees.

    It’s not like the old referees were trained doctors. The old referees only recently received training on recognizing concussions (given the recent emphasis), so the new referees aren’t at a huge disadvantage there.

    Other than that – the new referees have been even more strict about helmet-to-helmet hits than the old ones.

    My complaint with the new referees is that while they usually get the call right, what took 10 seconds before takes 40 seconds now. Penalties slow down any sport, so add referee unfamiliarity, and the game gets very slow.

  16. I have seen the mistakes too, but what I noticed most was the placement of the ball. I always marveled at how well the refs would get the proper ball placement and seeing where the ball was when a knee is down or stepping out of bounds. Sure it’s not 100% with the “real” refs, but it still was very good. These replacements have been HORRIBLE at getting the spot right. Every game I’ve watched, there were glaring inconsistencies. I’ve seen too many 1st downs given when it was clearly short even without replay.

    If you thought the fans were rough on Goodell during the draft last year, just wait till a replacement ref blows a game for a team and their fans will be calling for Googells head.

  17. The last comment is the kicker: “And if the best offer the NFL has made ultimately isn’t good enough, they can always find another hobby for which they receive a ton of money.”

    Take up scrapbooking or fly fishing, Old Refs!!

  18. Fully agree with @benwobbles

    college has it right with reviews handled by booth officials – more objective reviews, let’s do more of this. From what I’ve heard of both sides, can’t believe I’m saying this, but I side with God-dell. Get better technology in these games, don’t let a union dictate how to officiate. The NFL wants more full time crews and the ability to can bad officials, sounds good to me. Hire the scab officials full time, bust the union, and put 21st century technology into enforcing the rule books.

  19. the reason Div I NCAA football officials are not working as replacement officials is due to the fact that the vast majority of all conferences in division I have current or retired NFL officials as their officiating supervisors. Are you going to cross the union line when it is your supervisors line? For instance, the C-USA supervisor is Gerald Austin. He is a retired NFL official. He has ties to his colleagues that have been locked-out. Any football official in C-USA that crosses the line has committed officiating suicide

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