NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says there’s no doubt in his mind that, less than 24 hours after the lockout of the referees ended, the officials will be ready to perform at a high level tonight in Baltimore.
“I’m certain that they’re in shape and ready to go,” Goodell said.
There’s little doubt that Ed Hochuli stayed in shape during the lockout, but for the other 120 locked-out officials, that could be a concern. As NBC officiating consultant Jim Daopoulos has noted, some of the officials still need to pass their physicals before they can get to work — but Goodell sounded confident that everyone will be cleared to do their jobs before they take the field. And Goodell made special mention of the officials who agreed to drop everything and get to Baltimore for tonight’s game.
“I salute Gene Steratore and his crew for stepping up and saying, ‘Let’s get ready,'” Goodell said.
Goodell also noted, however, that there’s never any guarantee that the officiating will be perfect.
“You never want to see a game end like that,” Goodell said of Monday night’s Packers-Seahawks game. “You never want to see a game end on a controversial play. In 32 years as a league employee, that’s something you always would like to see avoided. But it happens in sports. Sports are imperfect, officiating is imperfect, life is imperfect. That’s why I think we all love sports. But you always want to try to avoid those controversial plays, particularly at the end of the game.”
If there is a close call at the end of a game this week, we can all be certain that the officials working that game will be more prepared than the officials working the first three weeks of the NFL season.