I’m a big fan of Roger Goodell. He is the best commissioner in sports, regardless of what the players think of him.
Goodell doesn’t care what the fans, media or players think and does what he believes is best for the game. As someone in charge of a billion dollar business, that’s how it should be. His job is to be decisive and make tough decisions.
But it’s time the commissioner takes control and works something out with the NFL Referees Association to end this lockout.
I came into the season believing there would be a lot of undeserved flack given to the NFL replacement officials. In sports, referees are going to be criticized. It’s unavoidable.
I figured fans and players would be given a convenient excuse to complain more about the officiating and that most of it would be unwarranted. Basically, the league and replacement referees would be in a lose-lose situation.
But after watching the first two weeks of the NFL season I have changed my opinion.
The replacement officials are terrible and borderline incompetent. The officiating in Monday night’s game between the Falcons and Broncos was a disgrace and an embarrassment.
It wasn’t bad or missed calls that irked me. It was the fact that the replacement refs had no control over the game.
In the first quarter, after a scrum for a fumble there was a six-minute delay in the action because the officials allowed the players to get into a shoving match. Then, to top it all off, they awarded possession to the Falcons even though a Broncos player emerged from the melee with the ball. Not to mention, at the end of the first half the refs awarded Denver 11 yards for a defensive holding call when it should have only been a five-yard penalty.
Again, this isn’t about the actual calls. Yes, there have been plenty of mistakes. There was a missed pass interference in the Ravens-Eagles game and in the Patriots loss to the Cardinals tight end Rob Gronkowski was penalized for a very questionable holding call.
But that is going to happen whether it’s the replacement refs or the regular guys. The statistics actually show that the replacement officials aren’t far off from what is the norm.
But the fact remains that these guys are in over their heads. I know the rules of football. I feel like I could watch a play in real time and tell you if there was holding or pass interference. But that doesn’t mean I’m cut out to handle the pressure and have the authority needed to be an official.
These guys generally know the rules and can make the correct calls, but they are indecisive and appear unsure of themselves. In just about every game so far this season, there has been a stoppage in play where everyone is staring at the officials and everyone is wondering if they have any idea what they’re doing.
It’s ridiculous and unacceptable.
It’s time the league digs into their extremely large pockets and gives the raise the NFLRA deserves.
Last season, the average NFL referee made $149,000 and it has been reported that the league is offering a five percent increase. The two sides are roughly $1 million a year apart over a 10-year deal. That is pocket change when it comes to the billions the NFL makes each year.
It’s time Roger Goodell takes a stand and gets the professionals back in the game because it’s only a matter of time before the replacement officials make a mistake that can’t be rectified.
Alex Ross is a senior sports communication major from Fishers, Ind. He is the Scout sports editor.
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