Kicking off the NFL season, officials seem to have our focus more than the play on the field.
The NFL season kicked off Wednesday evening, and rather than the new football season being the big story, it was the crew of replacement officials making the headlines.
The thing is, I watched the game and if not for the constant reminders of the “eighth-grade Idaho schoolteacher” wearing the stripes, I would not have been able to tell the difference. Sure there were calls and non-calls that were questionable, but doesn’t that happen every week? Or is it just more noticeable to us Seahawks fans than the other football fans?
Up until last week I didn’t seem to care much about the referee situation, but the Sklar Brothers, guest hosts of the Jim Rome Show last Thursday, interviewed FoxSports.com Columnist Peter Schrager and it changed my perspective.
Rather than not caring one way or another, I’m now rooting for allowing this current referee situation to continue. Sure the refs have had their gaffes in the preseason, but since preseason doesn’t really matter, I think most fans watched and giggled like it was a mediocre episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
But now that the games really count, we have to rely on men and women (insert gasp) who have done this work only semi-professionally and at the collegiate level (insert yet another gasp) for making the right calls when it counts.
Do we really have such a high opinion of the officials they are replacing? Other than the referee who looks like he could bench press a Volkswagen, is there anyone who would be recognizable in their civvies?
As a Seahawks fan, I know the name Bill Leavy, but I’m pretty sure I could not pick him out of a lineup. Perhaps if I had each of the refs line up, throw a flag and offer up their best illegal blocking call on Matt Hasselbeck, but I still doubt it.
Maybe I had already suppressed the memory of the Seahawks' loss to the Steelers in Super Bowl XL, but Schrager did not hesitate to bring it up as a shining example of just how much Leavy and the other “real referees” have the ability to jack up a football game. Oh, and not just any football game, but supposedly the best referees during the most important game of the season.
So now I say, “Bring on the replacement referees!”
I’m not going to go as far as to wish Mr. Leavy out of a job; I think his apology was sincere, but he needs to get his former coworkers on board with the reality that other people have enough skill to perform equally as average.
If these former refs are not willing to accept an average salary less than that of a 3-star general or admiral, then I’m not going to waste any of my time lobbying on their behalf, especially if it means that we get only slightly fewer questionable calls.
Brandan Schulze is a Navy veteran and member of the Military Sea Hawkers, the military chapter of the official booster club for the Seattle Seahawks. For more information on the chapter, visit www.militaryseahawkers.com. Membership is free for all military service members and veterans.