Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Waiting to Exhale — er, Waiting for the REAL NFL Refs

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Folks, after the last few days — after replacement referees made one of the worst calls in the history of the National Football League, which decided the Seattle-Green Bay game in favor of the team that should’ve lost (Seattle Seahawks) and took a win away from the team that should’ve won (Green Bay Packers) on the final play of the game — I’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop.

You could say that I’ve been waiting to exhale.

But in a phrase, what I’m feeling is this: bring on the real NFL refs.  Now.

What’s sad is that we have these incompetent replacement refs for one reason: the NFL, in a word, is cheap.  The owners have locked out the real refs because they don’t want to have to pay $3 million or so in pensions.

As Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said, it’s wrong for the NFL — a multi-billion dollar enterprise — to be fighting the real, professional referees over a few million dollars in pension funds. 

And not only does this make the NFL look silly and stupid, it also makes them look completely uninterested in player safety.  Most replacement refs just aren’t up to the standard that the real NFL refs pride themselves on.  And that’s going to lead to player injuries sooner or later.

Oh, wait.  It’s already happened.  Because Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub lost a piece of his ear — yes, his ear — on Sunday due to an illegal hit by a member of the Denver Broncos defense, Joe Mays.  One that might not have occurred had the real refs been on the field.

And it’s not just me being upset by this.  Nor the sports columnists across the nation, nor even the Packers players.  Some players on other teams are also upset.

For example, Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe — surely one of the most articulate football players ever — said this today to the St. Paul Pioneer-Press:

Kluwe said . . . some of the controversial decisions exemplified how important good officiating is to the integrity of the game.

“I think it made a lot of people aware of just how tough the job of being a referee is,” Kluwe said. “You can’t just plug someone in and expect them to be able to deal with the speed of the game and just how fast guys are moving out there. I think it shed some light on what is, a lot of times, a very unrewarding profession. If a ref is doing his job right, a lot of times it’s like a punter or a long snapper: You don’t notice them.

“It’ll be good to have those guys back.”

Or how about Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald?  This past Tuesday, Fitzgerald talked about the disputed ending to the Packers-Seahawks game to Yahoo Sports and said this (after a bit of a reprise from football columnist Mark Rogers):

Week 3 of the season was marred with a spate of disputed decisions but it was not until the dying moments of the Monday night clash between the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers that the furor came to a dramatic head. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson’s game-winning pass to Golden Tate appeared to have been intercepted by Packers safety M.D. Jennings, only for the officials to award the touchdown that handed Seattle a 14-12 victory.

“Being a player you want to know you are being protected and that is truly important to me,” Fitzgerald said. “On the play last night, I thought the same [thing] that everyone else thought. I thought it was an interception, I thought it was clear as day but unfortunately that call wasn’t made.

“This is definitely going to have playoff implications. You know Green Bay is going to be in the thick of the playoff hunt, you know Seattle is going to be in the thick of the playoff hunt. I just hope that later on in the year this is not something that comes back to hurt one of those teams.”

So at least one player who’s not on the Packers has already figured out that the replacement refs have adversely affected the Packers — and have unfairly benefited the Seahawks.  Imagine that!

One final word about the replacement refs, this time courtesy of Pioneer-Press football columnist Joe Soucheray.  He described what’s going on now as:

(Games are) like watching a movie where you begin to notice all the mistakes the director has made, furniture that isn’t supposed to be in the scene, characters called different names 10 minutes apart, pieces of equipment in the shot.

Soucheray goes on to say that he didn’t see the end of the Green Bay-Seattle game, but he didn’t need to:

Because before that I had seen enough to wonder how long the NFL intends to flirt with disaster. There is something else at work here, the very real prospect of outright corruption. I am not at all suggesting that the temps are corrupt. I am suggesting that with each passing week they are in danger of getting things so wrong that a victory might be awarded to a team that lost, if, in fact, that didn’t happen Monday night.

So that’s where we’re at right now.  The NFL has a bunch of refs who aren’t ready for prime time, but three games have been played with these incompetent and inadequate refs.  And at least one game has been decided for the wrong team due to these same refs, which is utterly absurd.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell needs to do the right thing; he needs to get the real refs back on the field, and stop his posturing already. 

And until the NFL gets its act together and gets the real refs on the field, I’m not going to watch or listen to any games, and I’m going to do my best not to follow along online, either.

Because this farce has gone on long enough.

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