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The NFL's replacement referees "didn't draw too much attention to themselves" during the opening week of the season, according to Jeffrey Martin of USA TODAY. They were "mostly innocuous" with the exception of the 49ers-Packers game and the Seahawks-Cardinals game, when "there was confusion over how many timeouts were left and Seattle got an extra one" (USA TODAY, 9/10). SI.com's Peter King writes after 14 of the 16 games of Week 1, replacement refs "have done an adequate job." NFL Exec VP/Football Operations Ray Anderson said yesterday afternoon prior to the Seahawks-Cardinals game, "We've seen nothing that stood out as a glaring mistake." King notes even with that "error and game times that dragged, the league's not likely to give much ground if and when talks with the regular officials resume" (SI.com, 9/10). Fox Business’ Charles Payne said of the good job by the NFL replacement officials this weekend, “If I was in the union, I’d be a little nervous” (“Varney & Company,” Fox Business, 9/10).
GETTING AN EXTRA TIMEOUT: In Phoenix, Bob Young reports the replacement refs "gave the Seahawks an extra timeout that could have changed the outcome of the game." With 42 seconds remaining, "confusion began" after Seahawks QB Russell Wilson threw an incomplete pass to WR Doug Baldwin, who "was injured on the play." Referee Bruce Hermansen "announced that the Seahawks would be charged their final timeout of the half because of an injury in the final two minutes, which would have been correct." However, he "subsequently told Seahawks coach Pete Carroll that the pass was incomplete, stopping the clock, and therefore no timeout was charged." Hermansen "did not mention that important, and inaccurate, conclusion" to Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt. Hermansen "announced that because the earlier pass when Baldwin was hurt had been incomplete, stopping the clock, no timeout was charged for the injury stoppage and therefore the Seahawks still had the timeout to use." Hermansen later said that "he goofed" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 9/10). YAHOO SPORTS' Doug Farrar wrote, "Anyone who watched the debacle could not feel anything but embarrassed for a league that has clearly put ancillary financial concerns ahead of the administration of its games" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 9/9). SI.com's King writes, "What was particularly bothersome is that the NFL observer upstairs didn't notify the officials on the field of the timeout mistake. If the NFL observer isn't going to know the rules, how can he expect officials with less knowledge of the rules to be able to apply them?" (SI.com, 9/10).
ISSUES AT LAMBEAU: In Milwaukee, Bob Wolfley writes the replacement refs were a "big issue" in 49ers-Packers, and Fox' Joe Buck and Troy Aikman "chose not to airbrush the problem" during the telecast. Aikman said, "What you have seen so far from the officials is two bad calls." He then said after a review of a catch made by Packers TE Jermichael Finley, "A lot of discussion of course throughout the pre-season about the replacement officials. I think overall there’s a tall order for them to come in from Division II football and officiate an NFL game. But you find yourself holding your breath a lot when they are making some of these calls." Buck responded, "So is the NFL" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 9/10). In San Diego, Boyce Garrison writes the replacement refs in the 49ers-Packers game "stunk like three-week-old Limburger cheese" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 9/10). In Green Bay, Rob Demovsky writes, "Though no one in the Packers’ locker room came right out and ripped the crew of replacement officials that worked Sunday’s game or used it as an excuse for the loss, several players danced around the topic" (GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE, 9/10). However, in Milwaukee, Michael Hunt writes, "The NFL might have a public-relations problem on its hands, although its Lambeau substitute crew was spot-on with several controversial calls" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 9/10). ESPN's Kevin Seifert wrote, "No one I encountered in the Green Bay Packers' locker room connected the officials to any part of their 30-22 loss to the San Francisco 49ers." Perhaps that is because the Packers "benefitted from the most notable call: The decision to pick up an illegal block flag on Randall Cobb's 75-yard punt return in the fourth quarter" (ESPN.com, 9/9).
UPS & DOWNS: Jets LB Aaron Maybin said of the replacements, "I’d say they’re doing a pretty good job so far." In N.Y., Ebenezer Samuel notes Maybin after the Bills-Jets game "lauded the refs overall." But Maybin said that they were "nervous to make certain challenging calls" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/10). Bills DE Mario Williams said, "Pass blocking doesn't consist of illegal hands to the face just about every play, which, when somebody tells you that, and you're five yards away from it, and you walk away like you don't see him telling you you're getting punched in the face every time, then that dictates somebody like myself having to take care of that on my own" (ESPNNY.com, 9/9). In Ft. Worth, Gil LeBreton writes under the header, "Throw A Penalty Flag At NFL's Replacement Refs." LeBreton: "I spent the day surfing the league stadiums, scanning for yellow flags. There were holding calls by the dozens, I discovered. Nearly every kick, it seemed, drew a flag for an alleged block in the back" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 9/10).
ANYTHING YOU CAN DO...: The AP's Larry Lage noted replacement official Shannon Eastin yesterday "became the first woman to be an official in an NFL regular-season game, working as the line judge in the Rams-Lions matchup." Eastin has "worked as a referee in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference," and "has 16 years of officiating experience." She is "joining a small group of women to break into officiating ranks at the highest levels of sports." Lions C Dominic Raiola said, "It's a sign of the times. The NBA did it" (AP, 9/9).
ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark noted it is expected that the '13 MLB schedule "will be released in the next week.” Each team will play 20 interleague games, 76 division games (19 versus each opponent) and 66 games (against the other 10 opponents in a club's league). Each team in a division will “play all of the same opponents, except for four interleague ‘rivalry’ games.” The “only glitch is that teams won't play exactly the same number of games against each opponent." Sources said that at least two variations of the schedule were “rejected and sent back to the schedule wizards for adjustments.” Stark reported those issues have now been “largely addressed” (ESPN.com, 9/9).
TWO MORE GAMES: FOXSPORTSSOUTHWEST.com's Jon Machota noted Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones "would like to see the NFL play only two preseason games and expand the regular season to 18 games." During an appearance on KRLD-FM, Jones said, "We really talked about it a lot in the negotiations with the players. The league had the right to do that with the consent of the players. Over the last television contracts, we all agreed that we would all agree to expand it if we did go to 18 and two preseason (games). I’m for that.” He added, “As far as the NFL is concerned, I think it’s a real positive” (FOXSPORTSSOUTHWEST.com, 9/7).
GOING TO THE BASKET: In Boston, Gary Washburn noted the American Basketball League, which starts in January with the backing of music exec Steve Rifkind, will find it “difficult to compete" with the NBA D-League due to the NBA's backing. The talent level of players who are “likely to begin the new league will be low, but playing with FIBA rules could be appealing, and Rifkind will add flair” (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/9).