Grant’s Rants: NFL Replacement Refs – Bad or Biased?
It appears that enough is finally enough in the NFL. Replacement officials have officially be handing their walking papers, and the world of American football should soon be back to status quo. And if you ask me, or anybody hailing from the Green Bay area, it’s not a moment too soon.
The travesty of the Monday nighter in Seattle was definitely the straw that broke the camel’s back. And it seems that Goddell and staff, have finally got the message that this ridiculousness has got to stop. I understand that they are trying to do the right thing not just for now, but for the future of the game, but when the integrity of the game is on the line, action must be taken, and I’m thankful it has been dealt with, however later it was.
Right from the beginning of the season we knew the referee lockout was going to be a problem, but I don’t think we realized how impactful it was actually going to be. Every week it seems the top story of the day was another game possibly decided by bad officiating. Not just careless penalties, but a complete disregard for rules and procedures. I know that for the most part they did their best to fill the shoes of some of the “best” decision-makers in professional sports, but there has to be a line in the sand somewhere – though I wish it were drawn weeks ago.
And speaking of lines in the sand, I do have to give a shout out to the officials who were on strike, as they were no doubt at home “rofling” (rolling on floor laughing), and awaiting their settlement call – and on Monday they must have said a collective, “Cha-ching”.
So were these replacement officials really this bad, ignorant, and oblivious? Or are there other motives driving their decisions?
In real-time, split-second calls are hard to make. I don’t care what sport it is or how many years you’ve been doing it, it’s not an easy thing to do. And even though I get upset when the wrong call is made, I give them all the credit in the world for putting themselves in a position to make it. But that being said, we do have technology these days that is constantly advancing, and working on taking as much of the “human error” element out of the game as possible. This is why we have instant replay, referee reviews, and coaches and players challenges. And the technology is so great today, with HD zoom, and freeze-frame motion, all you really need is a copy of the rulebook and common sense to make the right call. So how were these replacement officials in the NFL getting it wrong week after week? Or were they? What was the benefit to them having made the right call? Either way they’re going to be out of a job sooner or later…
I understand that if you pursue officiating in a particular sport, your knowledge most likely stems from your love of that sport. And that probably means that at one point or another you were a fan, and had a favorite team. It’s just common sense. But like becoming a judge on the Supreme Court, you must go through rigorous training to learn to put those prejudices aside, which is exactly what the regular NFL officials had to go through. They are, after all, considered professionals in their field. Having them replaced by inexperienced referees would be like putting a university law school student on the bench and asking him to preside over his friend’s case.
I’m sure that the majority of these guys do have integrity, and are out there doing the best they can. But if you know you are only a temp, and that there are no consequences for your actions, and you are reffing your favorite team… Or if you like to gamble, or you take part in a pool or fantasy league, or you get approached by a bookie… We know these guys aren’t rich, and we know there isn’t job security. And we also know that one of the officials was pulled minutes before the Panthers-Saints game after it surfaced that he was a diehard Saints fan! Not only that, but after further investigation, it was revealed that he had posted his job assignment on Facebook prior to the game. Gentleman, place your bets!
There was also the referee who reportedly asked LeSean McCoy of the Philadelphia Eagles to play better because he drafted him in his fantasy league. That’s two cases of potential prejudice and discrimination, and we only know about because these guys were vocal about it. Who knows what else went on behind closed doors, or in the minds of the officials who weren’t so forthcoming about their intentions. I’m not saying that all of these guys had ulterior motives, but it is pretty clear that some of them did. And the evidence over the past four weeks speaks for itself, ending with the game in Seattle.
I was over at my sister’s place on Tuesday, and yes still trying to get the taste of the Monday nighter out of my mouth, when I decided that just for fun, I would do a little experiment. I pulled the now infamous “Touchdown Interception” play that ended the game on Monday up on her laptop and asked my ten-year-old niece to tell me what she saw. We watched it a few times while I remained silent, and not only did she identify the Green Bay player that caught the ball, but she asked me if it was fair that the a player pushed another player from behind and knocked him down. Obviously referring to Golden Tate’s uncalled pass interference. Funny how a ten-year old caught that offensive pass interference, but the officials standing a few feet away missed it…
Anyway, so in conclusion to my experiment, it appears you don’t need to be “Smarter Than A Fifth Grader” to make judgment calls in the NFL, you just need to have a clear conscience, be un-biased, and have no motive for personal or financial gain.
…and that is the last word.