I wasn’t going to take time this week to talk about the NFL replacement refs. I said my piece last week and at this point I thought the issue would have been resolved and the refs would be back to work.
The replacement refs also were yet to really do anything drastically incompetent and except for a few blown calls here and there and a lot of good laughs at the expense of the part-time officiating crews, it wasn’t that big of an issue.
Sure it looked downright ridiculous to see seventh grade gym teachers and insurance salesmen improvise their way through a nationally televised sporting event, but I wasn’t going to get too upset by it, life goes on.
Fast forward to Monday night. Packers-Seahawks in Seattle. Monday Night Football, the NFL’s golden child and arguably the biggest game of the week every single week on the NFL’s schedule. (NBC’s Sunday Night Football now is the only nationally televised stand alone game with MNF being on ESPN) After some referee controversy in the Patriots-Ravens game on Sunday Night Football the NFL needed a solid performance from its replacement referees to prevent further damage from its labour dispute with the real referees.
The furthest thing from that happened for the NFL on Monday night.
From the get go the officials missed call after call, from completely missing Brandon Browner hitting Greg Jennings from behind away from the play, causing a skirmish that resulted in offsetting penalties for both players to the ire of Jennings, to not knowing what pass interference is, it was not a banner day for the NFL.
The fourth quarter is where most of the utter silliness occurred as the hijinks began when a roughing the passer penalty was called on Green Bay offsetting a game ending interception.
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was out of the pocket when he was tackled just a microsecond after releasing the ball in a play that not one of the regular crews would have called.
From there the madness continued, two holding calls on Seattle pushed them to 1st and 35 before a phantom pass interference call gave the Seahawks a gift of a first down inside the Packers 20 yard line. The Packers thankfully made a defensive stop and seemed good to hold onto the win.
But, here comes the final crazy replacement ref plot twist of the night. On the last play of the game the Seahawks got away with a obvious push to the back in the endzone and catching the ball after the Packers defender to be awarded a touchdown to win the game. A game that clearly should have went to the Green Bay Packers was taken from them by replacement officials calling a game in front of millions of people watching.
The final call of this game swung $150 million dollars in Las Vegas, cost the Packers a valuable win in the tough NFC North and has made the NFL look down right pathetic on top of it.
These referees have been taken off the streets and from youth sports leagues and thrust into the national stage without any sort of real fact checking. Referees facebook pages have identified some of these refs as unabashed fans of NFL teams, fantasy football players, and other indiscretions that bring in the reasonable doubt that the NFL did not even try to bring in refs that won’t have a conflict of interest, anyone with a referee uniform will do.
These refs weren’t even good replacement refs, they were one of the worst officiating crews from Week Two and were complained about then during the Redskins-Rams matchup. These refs were suspended from the Lingerie Football League for incompetence, yes the Lingerie Football League. When the NFL needs to pick up the Lingerie Football League’s misfit referees you know something is wrong.
The NFL always gives its song and dance of “the integrity of the game” whenever it chooses to fine a player for wearing wrong coloured socks or celebrating a big touchdown a little bit too flamboyantly, but when it comes down to actual integrity Roger Goodell has shown he has absolutely none. Zero. Nil. Nada.
The richest league in North American pro sports is holding out on their referees for nothing but pride and arrogance and is turning its back on its fans and players in the process without giving one damn.
Fans pay astronomical prices to attend games, or to watch as many games as possible on Direct TV’s NFL Sunday Ticket package. Advertisers pay millions of dollars to the NFL and television networks so their product can be attached to one of North America’s most prestigious entertainment products.
This isn’t it. P.E. teachers and insurance salesmen who can’t even call an arena football game played between buxom girls wearing lace and spandex calling the NFL is simply unacceptable. It has to be better.
If the NFL refs aren’t back soon, it has come to the point where the owners themselves need to fire Roger Goodell. His era as head of the NFL has saw setback after setback and his track record of saying one thing and doing the complete opposite is piling up.
The NFL deserves better, the fans deserve better, the players deserve better, and the real officials who have dedicated their lives to performing at the highest standard of their trade, deserve better.
Everyone is still going to tune in next Sunday, the games are still going to count, but the NFL has lost the respect it worked so hard to earn.
Until the replacement refs are gone and the right thing for the integrity of the sport and the league is met, the NFL is nothing but a joke and it is a shame.