Why the Replacement Ref Situation is More Ridiculous Than You Think

The Denver Broncos vs. Atlanta Falcons Monday Night Football game was the absolute last straw. With the real NFL referees still in a lockout, the replacement officials are just simply not cutting it and the league is to blame.

I was one of those people in the beginning of this whole thing saying, these guys aren’t doing that bad for the situation they are in; they only had a few weeks to learn all the rules, cut them a break, blah blah blah. What do I say to that now? “Rule #76: No Excuses, Play Like a Champion.”

Oh yeah, I went there.

Except, I’m not saying that to the refs, I’m saying that to the league. Indulge me in the following analogy:

Remember the NFL lockout last year? Ok, what if instead of creating a work stoppage, the NFL decided to put AFL players in there and still call it the NFL? Guess what? A weed by any other name is still not a rose people. It wouldn’t be the NFL- it would be the AFL, with NFL rules and venues. How can the league think that bringing in Division III collegiate referees can serve as a legitimate substitute for the real thing? Not only do I not call that fair- I call that ridiculous.

What I’m getting at is that the integrity of the game is at stake. Just ask Baltimore Ravens’ head coach John Harbaugh, who called Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles ‘chaotic’ because of the officiating. Joe Flacco flat out said the replacement refs are affecting the integrity of the game. While Harbaugh isn’t by any means known for his mild manner, Joe Flacco is. When you have one of the least controversial and well-respected quarterbacks in the NFL calling these guys out how can you not acknowledge this is a real problem?

Monday Night’s game was just embarrassing. Not only were they blowing basic calls that my grandmother could have called right (she’s 83 and barely speaks English), they did things like give the Broncos an extra six yards on their touchdown drive that ended the first half. Oh by the way, the first half? It lasted almost two hours. The first quarter alone took AN HOUR. I watched the entire two hours of The Voice and still was able to catch most of the second quarter. Could it be because the Geneva Convention followed every flag thrown, which happened to be every other play?

If these refs can’t call the basics and get spots right, what chance do they have against the ever-problematic pass interference? The answer is none. Too many times in these first two weeks of the regular season I’ve seen great plays by corners negated by bogus 15-yard penalties. Those are game-changing penalties. They are penalties that have changed these games.

These refs have zero control over the game. I heard someone say the players are treating these guys like substitute teachers, which is absolutely accurate. These guys are fighting and jawing at will. What do the refs do? Call off-setting penalties so neither team actually gets penalized. Is it coincidental that one of the most topsy-turvy starts to the NFL season in decades comes when the NFL referees are on strike? Doubtful.

Steve Young said last night that despite all this, the desire for the game hasn’t changed so in the end, the NFL doesn’t care. That might be the truest thing anyone has said about this debacle. It is just sad.

With no new talks scheduled between the NFLRA and the NFL was the Monday Night game still not enough to nudge the commish? Wise up, Goodell. Can I get a ‘Roger, that’?


Legitimacy? …Your call

With tonight’s OT officiating debocle in the Eastern Conference Finals I have to wonder where these ref’s eyes are going. The Celtics’ Rajon Rondo got facially assaulted and the result was a no call that allowed Miami to pull ahead and win. The legitimacy of the win is now rightfully questioned and it gives Boston another reason to bitch “That was wicked wack, man. I need to watch that again on my Hopp-ah.”

This is coming of course after game one the other night where Ray Allen a.k.a. Jesus Shuttlesworth- one of the good guys- gets called for a technical and so does Doc Rivers subsequently for protesting a frankly BS call in the first place. Eight Crazy Nights interlude anyone? (I know you saw that SportsCenter segment). This. Has. Got. To. Stop. The NBA Playoffs, or at least the Eastern Conference Finals are becoming the NHL… which brings me to another point…

FOR A LEAGUE THAT IS TRYING TO GAIN EXPOSURE AND LEGITIMACY IT HAS EXCEPTIONALLY CRAP OFFICIATING. I’m a huge hockey fan. HUGE. I want nothing more than for every NHL game to be like the ones at the United Center. Packed house. Loud crowd. Your hair standing up on the back of your neck during the national anthem as the entire crowd cheers for its entirety. Hawks fans are a community- rallied around their team. That’s not how it is everywhere and I appreciate that.

But with the most inconsistent, incoherent, incompetent officiating I’ve ever seen, it’s hard for anyone to see the legitimacy of the sport, much less make heads or tails of what exactly offsides is (it has to do with physical lines on the ice and location of the puck). You have one guy getting suspended for a hit that didn’t cause any injury (and I don’t even like Giroux) but then you let the Almighty Alexander Ovechkin get away with yet ANOTHER hit to the head where he left the ice and launched himself into another player. Some discrepancy happens every single game if you watch close enough. This simply will not cut it. How is anyone supposed to take this league seriously when the only exposure it’s getting is negative?

So what is the answer? I sure as hell don’t know. I’m open to suggestions though. What do you think?