Upon Further Review

If you haven’t heard by now the National Football League (NFL) has
locked out its referees and are using replacement officials.  If you truly
haven’t heard by now you must live in a cocoon because last Tuesday morning all
anyone was talking about was the call made in the previous night’s game.
 The NFL has long since replaced baseball as America’s Pastime and that is
mainly because of the product it produces.

The National
Basketball Association (NBA) has recently had a referee scandal that spoke to
the integrity of the game, and also had a player lockout last year that caused
games to be missed, nobody cared.  Major League Baseball has been marred
in recent years by a steroid scandal.  Baseball’s biggest problem is their
inflated payrolls which see the same teams capturing playoff spots every year.
 If the league were to miss games due to a lock out, nobody would care.
 The National Hockey League is currently in a labor dispute which doesn’t
seem will be rectified soon, nobody cares.  Last year when there was a
hint of the football season being interrupted it was the leading story every
day and both sides came to agreement and the season was not touched, everybody rejoiced.
It’s because the
NFL is a fine tuned machine from top to bottom.  From league officials, to
owners, to the players, to hit dog vendors.  The NFL has a great product.
 That product is now being tarnished because of a labor dispute with its game
officials, and its showing on the field.  I truly feel that  Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the NFL, is the best commissioner in professional sports, but
he has dropped the ball on this one.  Call it professional pride, call it
arrogance, call whatever you want but he needs to step in here and get
something done, and done soon.
As a lower level
official in two sports (baseball and basketball) it’s tough to take in what is
happening to the replacement referees in the NFL, they are just pawns in a
wicked game of chess. They are just trying to do the job they were hired to do
and do it to the best of their ability.  Unfortunately for them, they are
in way over their heads and it is obvious to everyone that watches the games.
 That speaks volumes to the integrity of the NFL.
Being an NFL
official is truly a difficult job, and not one I think I could ever do.
 The rules to remember, the level of play and the speed of the game alone
makes the job difficult.  To ask officials that haven’t gotten higher than
Division II college football and most of them Division III to work at that
level with only a couple of weeks of training is unfair, and is some regard
could be considered criminal.  These guys have been set up to fail from
the word go.
I am a long time
believer that the outcome of game is never really determined by an official’s
call.  If the teams and players want to play the game to a point where it
comes to the call of an official, that is the choice that the teams made and
they have to live with the call.  I have told batters in baseball many
times when they strikeout to end the game “Swing
the bat and don’t leave your at bat in my hands”.  
Games should
be decided between the lines and not by the guys with the whistles.
However, I truly
feel the replacement referees are not affecting the outcome of games, with the exception of the
Green Bay/Seattle game. The
replacement official have no control of the game, they don’t understand the
Instant Replay rules, they don’t know what to look for on Pass Interference
calls, and they lack confidence in their calls.  That makes the coaches
preparation for the game and the players execution that much more difficult.
Last week everyone
was talking about Interception/non-interception in the Monday Night game or the
ball that went over the upright in the Sunday Night game, which led to Patriots
coach Bill Belichick to grab a referee as he was running off the field.
 Those weren’t the calls that had me scratching my head that weekend.
 In Minnesota the referees in the 49ers/Vikings game allowed 49ers coach
Jim Harbaugh to challenge a call on the field with no timeouts, TWICE.
 Once shame on him, twice shame on you.
Once this labor
dispute is resolved it is likely that we will never see these officials again.
 Not only have they ruined any chance of ever officiating in the NFL but
they may not be welcomed back to their local college boards back home, and for
what?  To be part of the chess game.  A big price to pay if you ask
So I beg you
Commissioner Goodell, Please end this lockout and get the true NFL officials
back on the field, America needs its game back.
If you don’t take
it from me, ask my wife.

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