In case you were living under a rock, the NFL and the officials are currently in a dispute to which the league locked them out before the season. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is using replacement referees until he and the real officials can come to some sort of agreement.
Sure, Mr. Goodell, it shouldn’t be an issue just using replacements, right? These people have experience, just not at the NFL level, but that’s ok, right?
Oh you could not be more wrong on this. Goodell has made decisions and actions that all of us have questioned over the years, but this is by far his biggest debacle. And the sad part is…it’s only Week 4.
Week 4, and it feels like it’s Week 11. I’m stressed, I’m upset, I’m angry. I’m just happy the Giants are 2-1 and haven’t had any real impact on their games from the refs (knocks on wood).
In the beginning some were wondering why everyone was calling for the replacement refs to be revoked so quickly. How were they really affecting the game? Nothing was really changing. Sure, at first they weren’t, but it was only a matter of time before they did. Last night’s Monday Night Football game was a big taste.
The Green Bay Packers were visiting the Seattle Seahawks. The entire game was a complete circus act with missed calls here, and incorrect calls there. But it was the final play of the game that has everyone talking. Seattle had possession to try and win the game, and the rookie quarterback Russell Wilson launched a rocket hail mary down the field to Golden Tate. A lot of things went wrong on this play.
First, there was the obvious offensive pass interference on Tate that wasn’t called. Sure, we’ve seen regular officials miss calls like this, but the influence of the replacement refs has everyone extra fired up over it. And it’s not like there were so many guys in the corner of the endzone to where you couldn’t see the illegal push. It was pretty clear. What has everyone up in arms was the incorrect touchdown call.
Both Tate and MD Jennings jumped up for the ball, both players had their hands on it, but it was clear that Jennings had possession over Tate.
Now, the rule states that if it is a simultaneous catch, to which BOTH players have possession, the call goes to the receiver. HOWEVER, if one of the players has clear possession of the ball over the other player, meaning he had the ball in his arms and to his chest, it’s their ball. It was very clear that Jennings had the ball wrapped up in his arms and pulled into his chest, while Tate was reaching around trying to keep his hands on it, but did not have possession. Two officials came over for a closer look. One waved his hands in the air to stop the clock, likely to review if it was intercepted, while the other official signaled touchdown.
Seriously…you can’t make this stuff up.
The official came over to look closer to see where the ball was. It was clear Jennings had possession. Obviously he wasn’t entirely sure of the rule and thought they caught it simultaneously and signaled touchdown.
Do I blame the replacement officials for this mess? Of course I don’t. They were thrown into a situation they’ve never been in before, were given the responsibility to officiate at a level they’re not nearly used to, and had zero time to train. In case you didn’t know this, but the rules and stage are different in the NFL.
The real officials spend endless hours studying thousands of words and learning the rules of the NFL game as if it’s the Bible. The replacements are only used to officiating college, 7-on-7 high school, lingerie football, or what have you…It’s no where near what the level the NFL brings. There’s a lot more people and so much more pressure, and if you don’t have time to learn the NFL rules like it’s your Bible, then you’re going to make mistakes…and lots of them.
I am quoting Minnesota Vikings’ punter Chris Kluwe here in his latest piece on Deadspin: ”Just like we wouldn’t expect a high school player to keep pace with Ray Lewis, it’s unfair to think the replacements can handle the pressure and intensity of a stage that they’ve never been on.”
There’s only one person to blame for this mess, and that’s Roger Goodell.
Here is our Commish, sitting around in his greed hoping to save some money and locking out qualified officials, meanwhile he’s just letting the replacement refs ruin the integrity of the game of football. In the past, I used to look at the bright side of Goodell’s decisions and always managed to find a way to see some sense. This time, however, it’s impossible.
There’s a reason why these players play the game, the coaches coach, and the fans watch: We love football. We love what the NFL is about. The longer Goodell runs things the way he’s running them, the game will fall down a slippery slope.
Mr. Goodell, you’re using your pride in the wrong way. If your pride was in the right place, it would be to get the officials back on the field and save the face of the NFL. Instead, you’re too prideful to back down against them in terms of money.
This is really embarrassing to the NFL and it almost makes me feel ashamed to be a fan.
I’m scared to watch Giants games now, not because of whether or not they’re better than their opponent, but because of the idea that one blown obvious call could change everything. That is a damn shame.
One of two things will either happen today or sometime this week: 1. Goodell addressing the issue of last night’s game and what should and will be done as far as the future of the season goes. 2. Fine every player who complained on Twitter last night so he can put more change in his pocket.
I have a feeling he’ll lean towards #2…
What Goodell needs to do is make a statement today. I don’t want to get a press release from your Vice President. I want to hear from you. Fix this mess now! No one is enjoying the 2012 season of football, and I don’t blame them.
Follow Kelsey O’Donnell on Twitter @KelsODonnell