SBD/September 20, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL Focusing On Game Control, Penalties For Replacement Refs During Week 3

Under replacement refs, NFL penalties are slightly down from last year
The NFL "remains committed" to making the replacement officials "better and doesn't appear ready to be forced back to negotiations with the locked-out regular officials,” according to Kevin Manahan of USA TODAY. A point of emphasis during Week 3 “will be game control and penalizing players for illegal hits, including unnecessary roughness and unsportsmanlike conduct.” Officials participate in “on-site meetings the day before working games, with the sessions led by supervisors from the NFL's officiating department.” During the week, before officials travel to game sites, conference calls “are conducted by the position for each officiating assignment on the field” (USA TODAY, 9/20). The AP’s Barry Wilner cited statistics that show “strong similarities between the number of flags thrown this year by the temporary crews and last year by the guys who currently are locked out.” The average number of penalties per game “is down from 15.2 to 14.7.” Wilner noted the NFL “shows no sign of being forced back to the negotiating table because of the criticism” from players and coaches. NFL Senior VP/PR Greg Aiello yesterday said, "We are going to continue to do everything possible to raise the level of performance of the current officials" through training tapes, conference calls and meetings (AP, 9/19).

ENOUGH ALREADY: In DC, Sally Jenkins writes of the ongoing labor negotiations between the NFL and NFLRA, “Both sides are dead wrong. The soreheads of 32 arrogant owners and 121 clubby, egotistical refs are going to lead to someone else’s head being badly broken.” She adds, “Your responsibility to your wallets comes second to your responsibility for the safety of the players. There are some professions in which everyone should consent to cooperate in making the worksite a place where you don’t have an unreasonable expectation of breaking your neck, and this is one of them” (WASHINGTON POST, 9/20). In S.F., Ann Killion writes the “world's richest league doesn't care that its replacement referees are a national joke,” or that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell “looks like a hypocrite.” Killion: “What the NFL likes best is power-tripping. Showing officials who's in charge by hurting the league's credibility” (S.F. CHRONICLE, 9/20). In Dallas, Tim Cowlishaw asks, “Why have there been no talks between the NFL and its officials this week, especially if this is in many ways about converting a pension to a 401(k), something many corporations did years ago?” The officiating “nonsense will anger fans of losing teams, but it won’t drive them out of stadiums or, more important, away from their TV sets” (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 9/20).

NOT AS BAD AS IT SEEMS: ESPN’s Hugh Douglas wondered of the replacement refs, “What have the refs really done to change the outcome of the game?” Players have not “gotten hurt, they haven’t made any egregious calls where you looking at it and say, ‘Hey listen, they changed the outcome of the game.’” ESPN’s Colin Cowherd said the games in the NFL “are lasting about six minutes longer." Cowherd: "Ooohh, three minutes a half!” He added fans know the "old refs were better, but we are just pouncing on these guys looking for any little mistake." Cowherd: "They’re not that bad” (“SportsNation,” ESPN2, 9/19).
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