NFL Preseason: Replacement Refs Not Ready For Primetime

Aug 5, 2012; Canton, OH, USA; Replacement referees talk in the fourth quarter during the pro football hall of fame preseason game at Fawcett Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-US PRESSWIRE

One game in, they failed their first test

If the refs in any sport do their job correctly, we should barely even notice them. Mistakes will happen from time to time, that's human nature, but there is a level of expectation for them to get the basic calls correct. The block/charge call in basketball and the pass interference call in football are subjective and are not simple black or white calls. Those calls will be missed and upset us, but they're semi-forgivable. However, we expect them to get basic things right like the down and distance, the time remaining, and how many fouls a player has in basketball.

Due to a labor dispute with their referees, the NFL will be forced to use replacement refs this season if a new deal isn't reached. With only one pre-season game in the books the replacements still have time to work into shape so to speak, but the early returns weren't very promising. During the Hall of Fame game between the Saints and Cardinals (yes, I watched it), the refs seemed to take noticeably longer to make calls and missed an obvious holding call on a Cardinals lineman on the play Kevin Kolb got hurt on. Excuse me for not remembering the name of the lineman involved, but the replay showed the offensive lineman putting the pass rusher in a choke hold almost but they never blew the whistle. In fact, according to an article by Mike Freeman of CBS:

...players say, not a single, non-special teams holding penalty was called. That is a remarkable thing for the first preseason game of the year.

I only watched the first half because of what time I get up in the morning, but according to that same article on CBS players were upset with several other calls that weren't mentioned on the broadcast:

Players gave numerous examples but said two were blatant. In one, officials forgot to move the marker after a 3-yard loss. The loss was followed by an incomplete pass. So it should have been third-and-13 but the marker showed third-and-10 because the official forgot to move it. One sideline erupted over the mistake and the officials corrected it.

On another play, it was explained by players, there was a holding call on a Saints punt return and it took the officials four attempts to correctly spot the football.

It got so bad players began mocking the replacement officials. Players also say some of the officials began arguing amongst themselves vocally in front of the players.

The union for the locked out officals released a statement with a list of all the missed calls; on that list was the missed holding call in the endzone I mentioned at the beginning and many, many more.

•A touchdown ruled short
•A no call for offensive holding in the end zone
•A no call for illegal motion
•A no call for kicking team member going out of bounds and touching ball first
•Wrong penalty enforcement for offensive holding
•A no call for illegal hands to the face
•A no call for facemask
•A no call for helmet to helmet on defenseless punter
•The royally screwed up hold on a punt return
•A no call on intentional grounding
•A no call on defensive offsides

Not good, not good. The regular referees miss calls routinely, especially on some of the new "safety" rules put in like not going low on a quarterback or hitting a defenseless receiver, so the thought of using refs who weren't good enough to call games last year is a bit worrisome.

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