If looks could kill...
Through two full weeks on the NFL schedule, it's clear that the replacement referees are cancerous. They need to be evicted from the field of play, or the 2012 NFL season will be lost amid scandals too numerous to list.
This isn't going to be a list of all their wrongdoings. Rather, I aim to point out the various ways these guys have already ruined the NFL product thus far.
So, I told my wife that I would NOT be picking up the trash. That was my first mistake...
We've all seen this: The officials huddled in a circle looking completely perplexed about what to do—holding the game up for minutes at a time as the crowd, players and coaches grow increasingly rebellious.
The incompetence is maddening enough, but the worst part about it is the extra time lost. The AP's Tim Dahlberg posted this during the Monday Night Football tilt between Denver and Atlanta:
STATS LLC says NFL games are lasting 6 minutes longer this year. This game is Exhibit A for the reason why— Tim Dahlberg (@timdahlberg) September 18, 2012
Six minutes is the average, folks. Some have gone along smoothly, but others have been ridiculous displays of wasted time.
This sucks the most for East Coast fans, as night games like the MNF contest in Week 2 are keeping them up until the wee hours of the morning.
One of the primary functions of the refs is to establish and keep order on the field. So far this season, it seems the longer the players deal with the replacement refs, the worse things are getting on the field.
Case in point: The game between the Baltimore Ravens and Philadelphia Eagles was chippy from the opening whistle, and rather than get a hold on early, the refs allowed it to get out of control. DeSean Jackson and Cary Williams both should have been ejected for punching one another, but the officials let it pass.
If the inmates are allowed to run the asylum, things are only going to get worse. The replacement refs either don't understand the rules or are too scared to enforce them, and that's a recipe for disaster.
As mad as we get with the regular officials every week, at least they can usually be counted on to get the ball spotted in a timely matter without unnecessary delays.
The same cannot be said for these replacement refs.
Their inability to do something as simple as spot the ball after every play with any modicum of efficiency causes the game to move in a herky-jerky way that never allows teams to get into the rhythm they are aiming for with the no-huddle offense in the first place.
Personal foul: unnecessary delays by the officials.
Philip, I've been through this with you a hundred times already. There's no such thing as defensive holding.
If the regular referees don't come back soon, an entire generation of young people may grow up learning the wrong rules.
Well, maybe I'm exaggerating just a little bit, but the extreme incompetence we've seen from these refs at times could lead a new fan or two astray in terms of the rules.
There are not four time outs in each half.
An illegal block in the back is not the same thing as clipping.
There are plenty of other examples, and the truth is simple: These guys just don't know the rules.
Defensive backs in the NFL had it bad enough before the replacement refs were making phantom pass-interference calls on them. Now, it's just plain unfair.
This video of Chris Culliver is a clear example of a defender making a textbook play on the ball. The referee behind the play thought he saw something and threw the flag, putting the Detroit Lions in field-goal range and effectively giving them three points.
Culliver isn't the only defensive back to get wrongfully accused of pass interference, and it's getting to the point where I'd be calling a ton of deep passes in single coverage if I were a coach. If the officials are going to hand me a chunk of yards just because the defender comes near my receiver, I'd be stupid not to take advantage of the situation.
The referees have a job to do, and part of that job is to keep the game in line without affecting the outcome.
While it's impossible to say what may have happened, the offensive pass interference call on Jacoby Jones in the Baltimore Ravens' Week 2 contest against the Philadelphia Eagles is one clear example of how the refs unjustifiably altered the outcome of a game.
Jones didn't do enough to warrant a penalty—especially considering the refs' previous laissez faire attitude in that regard all game long.
There was still a ton of time left on the clock, and who knows what might happen next, but the way these guys are arbitrarily calling penalties without any semblance of consistency is ruining the product on the field.
The last thing Americans need right now is something else to get our collective blood pressure rising.
The economy still isn't fully recovered; we're in the middle of an election year; tensions in the Middle East nations are high; and replacement referees are screwing with our national sport.
For the sake of our health, Mr. Goodell, I implore you to make peace with the official officials and get the real refs back on the field.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78