We are now three weeks into the NFL season, and the adventure of the replacement officials is not getting any better.
Sure, they would make mistakes. They weren’t expected to adjust to the speed of the NFL game overnight, but after 5 weeks of Pre-season and 3 weeks of regular season, no improvement has been shown. When that fact is proven on the primetime stage, it gives the NFL a black eye AND a bloodied lip.
After last night’s Pats-Ravens game, Bill Belichick chased down a referee and laid a hand on him to voice his displeasure. While he should have exhibited better judgment and professionalism, I understand his anger.
There were more than a few bad calls, going both ways that swung momentum back and forth for both teams. With the Patriots up 30-21, Devin McCourty was called for a defensive holding call, when replay showed he made no contact with the receiver. That call led to a touchdown for the Ravens. Ravens coach John Harbaugh was given an unsportsmanlike penalty for attempting to call a timeout.
What made this situation worse, wasn’t the number of penalties called (24). Or even the varying levels of bad calls. It was that in addition to the crowd audibly chanting an expletive for manure (very common), the commentators of the game were openly bashing the replacements for their lack of control.
This is not to heap all the blame and criticism on the replacement referees, because they were placed in a bad spot. But it’s more of a call for the NFL Players Association and the NFL Referee Association to put their differences, mainly with salary and benefits, aside. Do it for the fans. Do it for the people who faithfully put their time and money up to enjoy your brand. The fact that this is still ongoing leaves the question: How much does the integrity of the game REALLY matter to Commissioner Goodell?