SBD/August 10, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL Replacement Refs Open Preseason With "Blown Calls Left And Right"

Numerous mistakes were made by the replacement refs in preseason games
There was “plenty of criticism" Thursday of the work of the NFL's replacement officials, according to Mark Maske of the WASHINGTON POST. The replacement officials working the Redskins-Bills game had “a few attention-grabbing moments,” including a first-quarter call that was “overturned on an instant replay challenge by the Bills after the officials erroneously ruled a touchback on a punt.” Following the replay review, the Redskins “were given possession at their 4-yard line.” Former NFLer Ross Tucker tweeted of the game's officiating, “These replacement refs have no idea what a hold is in the NFL.” CBS analyst Rich Gannon wrote on Twitter, "These official are in over their heads. Something needs to be done before somebody gets hurt" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 8/9). In S.F., Vic Tafur wrote the locked-out officials' leverage on Thursday "skyrocketed,” as there were “blown calls left and right.” There were a “bunch of unqualified, under-prepared high school and junior college officials trying to keep up with the fastest sport that has varying degrees of guys getting mugged and/or steamrolled on every play.” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has “had his hands full the last two offseasons, and he thinks of himself as a hard-liner.” But he “needs to back down and give the real officials whatever they want.” There is “enough money in his piggy bank that it shouldn't sting too badly” (SFGATE.com, 8/9). ESPN's Herm Edwards said, "Hopefully, they’re not going to be there for the regular season. ... There’s no head official that can lead these guys. They’re all rookies. That’s like starting a whole rookie team in football. You don’t win a lot of games when you start a lot of rookies” ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 8/10). 

CAN OF WORMS: CBSSPORTS.com’s Clark Judge noted more NFL games scheduled for this weekend “means more replacement officials, more missteps, more mistakes and, in all likelihood, more critical observations from the NFL Referees Association.” Judge: “I don't need someone reminding me that NFL replacement officials aren't as qualified as the guys locked out." Locked-out NFL officials "offering public dissections of their performances" have "made yourself targets for the same analyses when you return to work.” One NFL GM said, "They've opened a Pandora's box they could live to regret." Judge: “Follow the advice you offer your kids: Stop telling on others who are struggling” (CBSSPORTS.com, 8/9).

ONE FOR THE HISTORY BOOKS: In L.A., Lance Pugmire writes “history was recorded” on Thursday night when Shannon Eastin served as the NFL’s first female official during the Packers-Chargers game. As replacements in the Redskins-Bills game were “booed for missed touchback and pass-interference calls, Eastin and her crew, led by referee Donovan Briggans, performed respectably” (L.A. TIMES, 8/10). Chargers coach Norv Turner said of Eastin, "She was confident and in control." Packers coach Mike McCarthy said, "I thought she did a good job of communicating." The AP’s John Marshall noted though she “wasn't involved in many calls until late, Eastin remained steady” (AP, 8/9). Columnist Kevin Blackistone said having the first-ever female official working an NFL game last night is “great subterfuge by the NFL.” Blackistone: “They bring out the female ref, but this is all about the replacement refs. ... They’ve got everybody talking about Eastin being the first female ref, rather than talking about the fact that they don’t want to pay, they don’t want to give a bigger raise to their refs, they want to kill their pension and all of that" ("Around The Horn,” ESPN, 8/9). The N.Y. Daily News’ Bob Raissman said Eastin officiating in the game is “nothing but a smoke screen.” Goodell “put this woman in here to referee this game to cloud over the fact that there are replacement refs on the field, and the refs have been locked out." Raissman: "It takes the focus off of that issue” ("Daily News Live,” SportsNet N.Y., 8/9).

LET ME EXPLAIN: PRO FOOTBALL TALK’s Mike Florio noted in the first half of the Packers-Chargers game, ESPN’s Mike Tirico "explained that officials from Division I conferences aren’t available because it’s not feasible for them to moonlight, given that they work on Saturdays.” That explanation from ESPN “creates the impression that the NFL affirmatively chose not to use Division I officials.” But the “more accurate explanation is that the Division I conferences refused to allow moonlighting” (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 8/9).
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