49ers Harbaugh Makes No Bones About His Displeasure With NFL Replacement Refs
49ers coach Jim Harbaugh “wasn’t thrilled by the work of the replacement officials during the 49ers’ 20-9 loss to the Texans and he struggled to bite his tongue in his postgame comments,” according to Eric Branch of the S.F. CHRONICLE. Near the beginning of his news conference, Harbaugh said there were “things I’ve been instructed not to comment on. So don’t even ask me.” He said, “Some crazy, wild calls. Were they accurate? Weren’t they? We’ll see. I have a headache, though. I have a darn headache. A lot of them didn’t seem like they were in the ballpark” (SFGATE.com, 8/18). In Baltimore, Peter Schmuck noted the replacements during the Lions-Ravens game Friday night “were flagging almost every exciting play.” It is “more a statement on the quality of a game for which fans paid full price to see the Ravens starters for less than one half and underqualified officials for nearly four hours.” Ravens WR Anquan Boldin said, "It's unbelievable. They've really got to do something about that. Some of the calls out there ... the way the game was being stopped. It just looked unprofessional." Ravens C Matt Birk: "I feel for those guys out there. They have been thrown into the fire on the biggest stage in the world. They're on a Fox national game and every mistake is being magnified" (Baltimore SUN, 8/18). In Boston, Greg Bedard wrote if you are a fan of a team “that likes to push the envelope of fast-paced offense, you should be hoping” the NFL and the NFL Referee Association end the lockout and “get the real officials in place.” Four NFL GMs last week “felt the biggest impact would be felt by teams that like to go no-huddle to keep the defense off-balance.” One GM said, “No offense to the refs that are out there -- they’re doing the best they can and were pushed into this -- but they can’t get things straight now when the pace is really slow. Can you imagine what it’s going to be like when Tom Brady is trying to go up and down the field in the hurry-up like they did at times last season? Talk about a car crash” (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/19).
GOODELL, MCNAIR DISCUSS SITUATION: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Texans Owner Robert McNair today talked about the replacement referees, and Goodell said, “Officiating is an imperfect science. We think our officials are great, but what we’re interested in is making officiating better for the long-term and we have to reach a long-term agreement.” McNair said, “Clearly, the officials that we have not are not as good professionally as the ones that we’ve had or else we would have had the others all along. But in terms of the impact on the game ... I can’t see any difference.” There are some “calls we don’t like, we have some that should have been made that weren’t made but we don’t have any more and the players are just as well protected.” Goodell said of replacement officials calling the Falcons the “Cardinals” and messing up some easy calls in the preseason, “Those are things what we call ‘administrative aspects of the game’ because they’re not used to working with a mike. Those are not issues that we’re as concerned about. We’re concerned about protecting the integrity of the game and making sure the right calls are being made” (“Squawk Box,” CNBC, 8/20).
END IN SIGHT? USA TODAY’s Jarrett Bell writes with “another round of stain-on-the-game officiating blunders by replacement zebras over the weekend -- and with the regular-season opener 2 1/2 weeks away -- this has to be the week the NFL and its locked-out officials strike a new deal.” Bell: “This has the appearance of a runaway mockery” (USA TODAY, 8/20). SI.com’s Peter King writes the replacement officials this weekend “continued to be a major black eye for the game.” An end to the lockout “can be built, I'm told, with $12 million or $15 million over a seven-year period.” That is “simply not a big enough amount of money to have unqualified officials lord over games that could determine a playoff spot” (SI.com, 8/20). In Atlanta, Jeff Schultz wrote the lockout is “irresponsible,” and it “damages the product” (AJC.com, 8/17). In Jacksonville, Gene Frenette asked, “Why run the risk of damaging America's most popular game by arguing with officials over chump change?” (JACKSONVILLE.com, 8/16). In Cleveland, Bud Shaw wrote there is “no way” the NFL will let the lockout extend into the regular season. If it does, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, in “his role as chief bouncer and protector of The Shield, will never, ever live it down.” Shaw: “Enough posturing already” (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 8/19).
STAKES HIGH: In N.Y., Bart Hubbuch wrote if the NFL “is going to come to its senses, it has shown few signs of doing so just yet.” Hubbuch wrote, “Fortunately for the fans, several coaches and many, many players … aren’t afraid to say so, despite an official directive from the league office to keep their referee comments sunny.” Hubbuch: “The stakes are too high (one regular-season game can decide a team’s entire season) and the NFL’s rule book too big to leave it in the hands of amateurs” (N.Y. POST, 8/19). Also in N.Y., Gary Myers wrote if Goodell “doesn’t succeed” in reaching an end to the lockout then he “loses some credibility when he speaks about the integrity of the game or player safety.” It will “make him look bad if one of these rent-a-referees blows a huge call that costs a team a game” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/19). ESPN.com’s Ashley Fox wrote the league is “dancing on delicate ground,” and the replacement officials thus far “have been a joke.” Fox: “The NFL is OK with using inexperienced replacement officials to determine late hits, horse collar tackles, illegal contact and roughing the passer? Roger Goodell has made player safety his mantra” (ESPN.com, 8/17).
CAT'S GOT HIS TONGUE: In N.Y., Bob Raissman noted Fox' Mike Pereira, who formerly served as NFL VP/Officiating, has been “outspoken supporting the NFL’s locked out officials.” But when Pereira joined Fox’ Kenny Albert and Daryl Johnston during the Bengals-Falcons game on Thursday night, his “approach was softer.” He “seemed to be hedging, saying he felt ‘sorry’ for the replacements.” Raissman: “Wonder if someone got to Pereira and told him to dial it down?” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/19).