How Long Before Regular NFL Refs Become Players' and Coaches' Worst Enemies?
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Debating how long before the NFL refs become the players' and coaches' worst enemies is like playing a game of "would you rather" with you friends—there's no positive alternative.
Just because the regular NFL refs are far better than the rent-a-refs, doesn't mean that the zebras aren't still the enemy.
As long as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, the NFL officials will be disliked.
You are all educated fans, so this isn't anything you didn't already know.
Lets take a deeper look at why it won't take long for the refs to be hated.
The Pleasantries Were Nice While They Lasted
Gene Steratore embracing the fans in Baltimore upon his return from the lockout.
Evan Habeeb-US PRESSWIRE
Right before the refs returned to action on September 27, veteran Gene Steratore explained the unusual circumstances that he expects going forward.
"You know we always pride ourselves in being a face without a name," Steratore, a 10-year league veteran, told The Associated Press about an hour before kickoff. "This will be a little different, but I don't expect it to last too long. And that's the goal — is that we can let them get through that portion of this. It's happy to be back, it's happy to be appreciated. But then as soon as the game starts, it's happy to disappear again and let the entertainers entertain."
Steratore's mindset and approach to the officials' return was accurate.
Now that all the pleasantries have been taken care of, expect players' and coaches' relationships with the refs to be just as icy as they've always been.
Be Careful What You Wish for
Refs are back, but it's the same give-and-take.
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The regular officials have gotten back into bed with the NFL for the next eight years, so let the coaching and player tirades begin.
Not that players and coaches weren't complaining about bad calls with the replacements.
How long did it take for the regular refs to become the players' and coaches' worst enemy? One game.
An official has a thankless job, and while these guys have clearly garnered respect within the league and with the fans, they will always play the role of antagonist each week.
Rookie Harrison Smith
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There's no need to ask safety Harrison Smith of the Minnesota Vikings about his feelings toward the regular refs.
It's safe to say that he views them as the enemy.
In Sunday's 30-7 win over the Tennessee Titans, Smith shoved back judge Steve Freeman and was subsequently ejected.
Aaron Rodgers sharing a laugh with a regular official.
Benny Sieu-US PRESSWIRE
The regular officials have restored the integrity of the game since they've returned, but they have also been under an even bigger microscope by players and coaches.
With the extreme pressure for the officials to be in the right spot, at the right time and make the correct call on every play, they are bound to catch some flack each week.
As long as there is a human element to officiating in an NFL game, the refs will often be the scapegoat.
Even though they received a warm welcome back in Week 4, they shouldn't expect any cards or gifts around the holidays.
The officials are back to being scrutinized and hated, which is business as usual in the NFL.