The fans' irritation, frustration, aggravation with the replacement officials is not only because they seem incompetent in their performances and ignorant of the basic NFL rules, but also that the NFL—and no other entity—is to blame for the officiating discrepancies, robbing us from fully enjoying the game we all love.
Through the first three weeks of the season, NFL fans have seen obviously blown calls or non-calls by the replacements that they themselves would have gotten correct or initially called. They seem completely oblivious to the most simple and common rules that even the novice NFL fan can comprehend.
These officials look as though they have never watched an NFL game, let alone attended one. Maybe pulling the Saints’ fan referee from the week 2 Saints’ game was a mistake—at least then there would have been an official who has actually viewed a NFL game and might better understand the rules.
Of all the terrible calls or non-calls made thus far—the additional 12 yards given to the Titans in their game against the Lions or the extra challenges given to the 49ers at Minnesota being two of the more recent—the most egregious occurred in Monday night's game between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks. The replacement refs finally did what everyone associated with the NFL had feared: They cost a team a game.
We all know what play it is, so an explanation or setup is unnecessary.
When Mike Tirico was yelling that the pass was a touchdown, many fans knew it was not, and should not have been, a touchdown. It was clear watching in real-time that M.D. Jennings had possession of the ball before he landed one foot on the ground, and Golden Tate did not have a claim to the ball until the play should have been blown dead—and would have been blown dead by regular NFL officials.
That play highlighted the cornucopia of fallacies the replacement referees have thus far displayed, and was the cherry on top of the sundae that has been replacement-official ineptitude.
Yet it is not solely their performance that has fans cursing the replacements and Roger Goodell. Fans know that given the chance, they can do a much better job in officiating a NFL game than the replacements.
The replacements’ actions are substantiating the public belief that they do not know the most basic rules of the game. It is this perpetuation that causes fans to believe, rightfully so, that they know the rules better than the replacement officials; and that is most frustrating to the football community.
It is akin to an English teacher saying “I done did” or using double negatives when instructing a class—as a student you know the grammar is incorrect and it causes you to question their credibility in teaching the subject.
Now with Monday night’s actions, fans are more worried their favorite team could be, as Leonard Hofstadter would say, attached to another object by an inclined plane wrapped helically around an axis by these “officials”.
Nobody is talking about what turned out to be a great defensive contest last night, nor the Packers once again struggling on offense. Every conversation is about the replacement refs' incompetence and Roger Goodell’s impotence or refusal to get a deal done with the regular officials.
Until the NFL and Roger Goodell bring the regular NFL officials back, fans' and analysts' focus and discussion will continue to cover the performance of the replacements rather than the players or the game.
That, as much as the replacements' performance, is what should force a deal with the referees' union. If not, nothing will.