Monday, September 24, 2012

A Different Kind of Gripe on the Replacement Refs

image via Big League Sports
Before yesterday's round of NFL games, the NFLPA Executive Committee sent a letter to the NFL owners regarding the need for the league to come to an agreement with the officials. The performance of the replacement officials has been very well publicized, and any fan who has watched an NFL game this season has witnessed a noticeable decline in the quality of officiating. You can read the NFLPA's letter over at Deadspin. While I agree with many of the points therein, there is one topic of conversation  on which I'd like to voice my dissent. 

One of the recurring themes brought up as a result of the officials' lockout is the need for the replacements to "take control of the game". The NFLPA's letter states: "Coaches and players have complained of numerous errors and failures including: erratic and missed calls on egregious holds and hits, increased skirmishes between players and confusion about game rules. Many replacements have lost control of games due to inexperience and unfamiliarity with players and rules." Of course, penalizing players for such skirmishes will reduce the frequency of their occurrence, but shouldn't it be the on the players and coaches to stop the skirmishes first and foremost? Why is there a need to push and shove between plays? What's so rewarding about it that players will take advantage of every chance to get away with it? And why is maintaining order in this manner something a coach can complain about when he is supposed to be controlling his own players? I struggle to see how this responsibility falls squarely on the refs' shoulders.

This is obviously just one point brought up about the replacement refs, and I think we can all agree that while they are no gold standard themselves, bringing the real refs back as soon as possible will do wonders for returning the quality of NFL games to a level we are all used to. Here's hoping. 

-Dan Mullin

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