Quit Blaming the Replacement Officials

While watching Monday Night Football this evening, I started to write my blog post that had no relation to the NFL or football whatsoever. After watching the ending of the Seahawks controversial victory over the Packers and watching Twitter absolutely blow up, I knew I had to dramatically switch course. Let’s talk real quick about these replacement officials.

All of us need to recognize something right now: None of us have any right whatsoever to take our anger out on the replacement refs. They have ventured into a near impossible situation. Most of these fill-ins were Division III officials last year. There is absolutely no comparison at all between a Whitworth Pirates vs. Pacific Lutheren Lutes game and a San Francisco 49ers vs. Minnesota Vikings game. Rules and game administration between the two levels are nowhere close to being on the same wavelength. If there is something that is similar between the two, than it is magnified 1,000x more in the NFL (everything from speed to athleticism to crowd size to intensity). To think that these officials could have an acceptable grasp on the highest level of football in the world after cramming for a summer is a joke.

Besides the major differences between the levels of football and besides the laughable amount of time they received to get acquainted with the NFL version, these men never had a chance to succeed. They got no respect from the players, coaches, or media. This of course translated into the officials getting no respect from fans. Every game I have watched this season, the announcing crew has made the officiating the focal point of the broadcast. Instead of focusing on player-related storylines, the talent on these broadcasting teams have focused all of their energy on criticizing the officials. When you get these analysts made up of mostly former players and coaches in the booth who have massive followings and larger than life personalities, they are going to sway the audience…especially when they say the same thing over and over for three hours. Over the past few weeks, I have wondered what fans would really think if they sat down and watched a whole game with the mute feature on. No way would they be as irate over the officiating.

I am mad at both the team owners and the NFL referees union for not coming to terms on a deal. Yes, the owners seem to be taking the cheap road by not meeting the demands of the referees when they are supposedly making millions and millions of dollars per team. And yes, the officials are entitled and they do feel that they are worth more than they actually are. I honestly feel that with more training, experience, and seasoning, these replacement officials could do a job on par with the locked out refs. Whenever two sides strongly disagree on issues, the best route to take is one of compromise, right? Can’t the owners and referees somehow sit down and hash something out? But who am I kidding, isn’t this what they have tried to do for several months now?

My main mission is just to get people to lighten up on the criticism of the replacement refs. I know right away that a “fan” is not very educated when they are directing their anger and insults towards the guys who have taken on such a momentous task. I really do hate to see people vilified for doing their best under uncontrollable circumstances, especially when their best is way beyond anything that you or I could ever do. Let’s realize that it is not the replacement officials who are making the most costly bad calls. Rather, it is the team owners who are too greedy to shell out a few extra bucks and the NFL referees who feel they are indispensable and who feel they should make a comfortable six figure salary for officiating sixteen games a year. There are more serious problems in this world. GO SEAHAWKS! Don’t Blink.

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