[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="620"] Replacements like to play "Girl Talk" the board game prior to making each call.[/caption]
Two weeks into the NFL's power move over the NFL Official's Union and while there is many calling for an end to the labor dispute, the NFL knows they don't need to move a muscle since they hold all the bargaining power. The NFL is doing just fine with ratings and filling their stadiums without the "real" officials. At the same time, the NFL wants the best product on the field and they know that currently the replacement officials are sub-par and the consequence of that has affected many games negatively.
Personally, I haven't been able to watch a ton of NFL these first two weeks with a bit of a busy schedule early this fall. What I have watched, I can only remember a handful of times that I thought the replacement refs were a real negative. Those negative moments to me though have me wondering if the announcers, myself and others are just being hyper-critical because we know these officials are not the "normal" guys?
Last night's game between the Broncos and Falcons many are looking at as a perfect example of why the NFL and the officials need to end their contract disputes. Phantom pass interference calls, Ray Edwards starting a scuffle on the Broncos sidelines and many other issues throughout the game that didn't look good for the replacement boys.
Are these issues really new though?
First, phantom pass interference calls happen with or without the real officials. Pass interference is one of, if not the, toughest calls to make in the NFL. The NFL has been out to make it a flag football game for quarterbacks and wide receivers with rule changes and that makes it so anytime there is any contact after the 5 yards from scrimmage bubble a ref could make an argument for a pass interference penalty on a DB. Just like with quarterbacks, anytime a QB is breathed on after he releases a pass, especially if the breath goes towards his head, there is a possibility for a penalty.
Now almost every deep pass in which there is any contact between WR and DB, the ref in many ways just tosses a coin in the air and makes the call based on the 50/50 chances in which that mental coin falls. The replacement refs make the same coin toss, everyone just pays more attention to the way their coin toss falls.
Next thing from last nights game, the scuffles and players getting into it with each other after multiple plays. Ray Edwards is an idiot. He will start shit with or without the replacement refs. I know he wasn't the only problem in last nights game, but the scuffles happened last year and the year before that and they'll continue to happen even when Ed Hochuli and his 'roided out pipes get paid.
Another factor to consider with the length in which the Ray Edwards sideline scuffle took to sort out is that the NFL players are also aware that these officials are replacements. You have to assume that these players, knowing the officials are second-rate, have less respect for the replacement's authority, or lack-thereof.
For me, the biggest issue hasn't been the calls made or not made by the replacements. It has been delays in the game, already by its nature filled with them, while the replacements stand around and discuss what call to make. When I finally have a Sunday to sit around all day and watch nothing but football I am going to go insane watching these guys have their chat sessions. The NFL cares that I and many others will be frustrated by the issues raised by the replacement refs, yet we all will keep watching and that is why the NFL will just wait for the NFL Official's white flag waving phone call.