Criticism of Replacement Referees: Trendy Gripe or Legit Commentary?

Brian BuckleyContributor IISeptember 18, 2012

JACKSONVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 16:  A referee looks down during the game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Houston Texans  at EverBank Field on September 16, 2012 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

As a warm-blooded American male, I’m embarrassed to say I missed every minute of Week 1 in the NFL. In my defense, I was out of the country and the likelihood of American football being shown in Spain is as likely as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad entering a synagogue with a smile.

As soon as I touched ground in America, I felt the football season through my veins. After I walked by the podium and media circus that was set up for Weird Al Yankovic and not for me, I was bombarded by the vial criticism of the replacement refs. Like a vicious punch in the face, callers on sports radio quickly filled me in on the incompetent buffoons in stripes.

At first, I wasn’t buying the barbs. Even scabs deserve a grace period. Amateurs had been thrown into a pressure cooker on a national stage, so there was bound to be irrational critique from all over.

Ed Hochuli’s biceps never hurled an incorrect flag, right?

Then I sat down and watched the stand alone Monday night game between Denver and Atlanta. That’s when it all changed.

For starters, the first quarter took an hour to play because of inadvertent flags and a fracas between the clubs where the officials had absolutely no control.

Just in case the performance needed to be dragged deeper in the mud, other low lights included Atlanta QB Matt Ryan personally initiating his own late hit call to be issued and one official announcing an infraction as, “93…Red”.

And if you were in a state of comatose to the actions on the field, MNF announcer Mike Tirico made it quite clear what was happening on the field:

To add insult to injury, these newbies aren’t just green, but they’re star struck as well.

Eagles RB LeSean McCoy revealed one ref told him he wanted him on his fantasy team, while another official was not allowed to work a game because his personal Facebook profile stated how much of a big Saints fan he was.

With that being said, Commander Roger Goodell needs to get the real zebras back to the bargaining table. When you are in possession of one of the richest companies there are, you need to put your best foot forward with pristine officiating and not settle for substitutes. 

I’m all for a learning curve, but Mike Tirico took the “embarrassing” words right out of my mouth.


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