Replacement officials are ruining the NFL game
I’m not right very often.
Not in this column, anyway.
I don’t need to rehash the details of my failures of yesteryear – I’m sure if you’re a faithful reader you already know that most of my predictions go sour pretty quick.
But this past June, I hit a home run – so far out of the park that the ball is still traveling miles over the fence of correctness.
I’m not here to gloat about my stance being accurate – I’m merely here to share my thoughts with you all because by now, I’m pretty sure we feel the same way.
So here goes – say it with me.
The replacement officials suck!
There, I said it – they are absolutely, positively terrible.
If this problem isn’t rectified, the NFL game, as we know it will be ruined – if it hasn’t been already.
OK, I know I am spitting some pretty heavy-handed words here, so let me add some meat to my argument.
The first reason is integrity.
Millions upon millions of fans pay their hard-earned money each season to watch these athletic gladiators do battle for close to 20 Sundays in a year.
Away from those inside of the stadium, hundreds of millions more line up in living rooms throughout the entire globe to watch the product on TV.
The NFL is a monster. It is in EVERYONE’s lives in some form or fashion.
Sure, you may not watch football. But commercials, products, labels and … everything else is created with football in mind.
With that said, we all know 432 football is an unpredictable game – anything can (and should be able to) happen on any given Sunday.
But there’s a fine line between unpredictable and just plain stupidity.
What we’ve seen in many stadiums so far this season is that – stupidity.
So far in the NFL season, we have seen the following:
An official granted a team a fourth timeout with the clock winding down in a close game late in the fourth quarter.
A scab referee was replaced from his assignment because he posted on Facebook about how big a fan he was of one of the teams he was set to officiate.
The game clock continued for 29 seconds after an incomplete pass during a two-minute drill, forcing a team to go to halftime instead of pressing for more points
A three-and-a-half hour Monday Night Football game glittered with challenges and delays from missed calls.
An official (allegedly) telling a star halfback that he was on the official’s fantasy football team.
Do I need to go on?
No one expects any official to be perfect – or any human for that matter.
But imperfection and sheer disregard for quality are two different things.
Fans don’t deserve perfection – but they do deserve the peace of mind knowing that the game played before them is fair and free of obvious conflicts of interest.
Right now, no one can tell me that the current product is pure.
And that’s not fair to fans, players or anyone involved with the game.
The second reason is injuries and “player safety.”
I thought Roger Goodell cared about the health of his employees?
He’s spent the past decade turning the game into glorified flag football, limiting rules on contact, hitting and equipment.
But does Goodell really, truly care about player safety, or is it all a charade?
Having these scabs around makes it seem like the commissioner’s words are merely designed to cover his rear in lieu of lawsuits.
Make no mistake about it – the game is far more dangerous with scab referees on the field.
These guys are not trained to call roughing the passer like an actual official would. They also aren’t able to accurately call other contact-based penalties like pass interference, personal fouls, horse collars and holding.
With less structure and more leniencies, guess what players will do?
You guessed it – they will bend the rules.
Once rules are bent, guess what will happen?
More players will be injured by shady, rough and tumble play.
Surely Mr. Goodell can see these same trends.
He chooses to avoid them because of sheer greed and hypocrisy.
This guy only cares about whether players are safe when cameras are rolling and when money is on the table.
But the final reason why the referee strike is bad is because of the basic message that it sends.
The NFL is a growing business – it truly can do no wrong in today’s world.
Anything the league does will succeed – they have money gushing out of their bank accounts.
According to reports, all the league’s officials want is to see their salaries increase exponentially based on the inflation the league has experienced within its budget.
That seems fair, right?
A company makes more money – so does its employees. It’s basic business.
But Goodell hasn’t relented and is refusing to shake his stubborn, bone-headed ways.
It hasn’t hurt the league yet, but if it continues, people will turn to the college game for their main football fix.
I’m living proof.
I already have.