The NFL appears to be doing everything it can to downplay the replacement ref debacle. They also want to make sure that everyone who is either an NFL employee, or represents the NFL in any way, “tows the company line” and not put these refs in a negative light.
If I were a gambling man, I’d bet that the NFL sent out some type of notification to their employees and game commentators prior to the start of the season to have them try to put the replacement refs in a positive light.
This could be evidenced by Cris Collinsworth pointing out on numerous occasions during the first game of the year where he kept saying how good the refs’ calls were.
It sounded like John Madden talking about Brett Favre for cryin’ out loud.
Then, just a few days ago, the Wall Street Journal published an article about a “replacement ref audit” that basically tries to show how the amount of penalties, challenged calls and reversals are not that much different than last year (therefore insinuating that things are actually not as bad as you think).
Hmm, where would a writer for the Wall Street Journal get this kind of information about NFL penalties? Unless that writer went through every single game, manually, to pull out all of that information, I’d have to think it was supplied by — you guessed it — the NFL.
And what would be the motivation behind the NFL supplying the Wall Street Journal with such information? That’s easy, it’s simply an attempt to show everybody that the replacement refs aren’t doing any worse than the regular refs so therefore “this isn’t a big deal people.”
Most recently, the NFL has now sent around a letter to NFL teams issuing a warning about on-field conduct, particularly as it relates to coaches berating the officials. Coaches berating officials, by the way, is nothing new.
Per what Adam Schefter of ESPN reported, here is what the letter consisted of:
“We contacted them to remind them that everyone has a responsibility to respect the game,” NFL executive vice president Ray Anderson said Thursday night. “We expect it to be adhered to this weekend and forevermore.”
Asked what would happen if another coach berated another replacement referee this weekend, Anderson said: “If someone were to make that mistake, he would be flagged on the field and he would be hearing from our office in a very firm way.”
On one hand, I can understand. The NFL and NFLRA are in the middle of a contentious labor dispute so the NFL and its owners don’t want to have their bargaining position weakened by public criticism of the replacement officials.
However, the NFL is merely trying to put lipstick on a pig here.
The replacement refs seemed “okay” in Week 1, but after several debacles in Week 2, their competence is significantly in question. Several players, media types and analysts have now openly criticized these refs saying how they’re impacting the integrity of the game.
Yet, the NFL seems to want to insist that things aren’t that bad.
It’s funny that, in the NFL’s letter, they say “everyone has a responsibility to respect the game”, but yet they are putting sub-par referees out there every week.
Is that what they call “respecting the game?”
If they truly respected the game, they’d be working harder on resolving the problem with the regular refs. After all, it’s not like we’re talking about a huge sum of money here.
We’re talking about a few hundred thousand dollars from each team, when it comes down to it. That’s a drop-in-the-bucket for NFL teams.
This whole referee lockout is all about NFL owners being greedy, on top of showing everyone how strong they are and “cannot be bullied.” It’s about arrogance and establishing authority while “protecting” their future money.
They did it with the players last year, now they’re doing it with the refs this year. And for a multi-billion dollar business that is being this bull-headed over the compensation package of “part-time employees”, it’s a surefire case of overkill.
Being an Eagles fan, I witnessed probably the worst officiated game of the year so far last week when they played Baltimore. Several delays, botched calls and a loss of control during the game downgraded the viewing experience.
At the end of the day, the fans don’t care who is making the money and who gets paid what. We just want to see the best product on the field and have a pleasurable viewing experience.
But, I agree with many players’ statements in that it’s impacting the integrity of the game and disrupting the flow. Long delays and ridiculous calls and/or non-calls are impacting the game in a negative way.
The regular refs were sometimes bad enough, we don’t need Dumb and Dumber to become Dumb and Dumberer.
If the players themselves are starting to think that the officiating is impacting the outcomes of games, it’s time to settle this mess and get the regular refs back out there. I’ve always felt that officiating impacts outcomes of games, but if this is worse, it needs to be fixed quickly.
All refs, regular and replacement, are only human and do get calls wrong, but we have to accept it as part of the game. However, when you are knowingly not putting the best of the best out there to minimize errors as best as humanly possible, you are doing the game a disservice.
When the aspect of bad officiating starts getting this much attention, it’s time to get this problem resolved, not try to make things seem as if they’re “not as bad as you think.”
Because they are as bad as we think.
The replacement refs are “replacements” for a reason…especially when you hear that one of them is a Saints fan and had to be removed from officiating a game, and when you hear LeSean McCoy joke about one of them needing him for his fantasy team.
If the NFL wants everyone to “respect the game”, they should lead by example and put the best, most experienced professional officiating crews out there every week.