Replacement Refs to Blame? Or the league? [OPINION]
If someone offered you a promotion in your field with more pay, more exposure and an opportunity of a lifetime, would you say no because you felt under qualified? Probably not, otherwise complacency will keep you glued to life’s treadmill.
That being said, there were once high school, Division II and mid-major college referees that were blowing whistles and throwing flags under Friday night lights and at Saturday afternoon rivalries. Their phones rang and it was the NFL. I’m certain they were excited to be given the opportunity to be at the top and officiate at a professional level.
So for the fans who are frustrated with bad calls, late hits, overlooked pass interferences and bean bags thrown at the end zone – if we didn’t have replacement officials, we wouldn’t have football because the NFL has yet to reach an agreement with the original referees since June of this year. The replacements are with us until Week 5 of the NFL. A first, since the 2001 season.
Respect the replacements, because more than likely they will be on the field until mid-October. Stop blaming them and start blaming their employer. According to the USA Today, among many issues, both sides are at odds over salary, compensation benefits and those officials seeking a continuation of a defined-benefit pension plan that the NFL wants to do away with. So the NFL has a ton of money, the referees have a union and the replacements are taking the hard-hits while they tend to their temporary part-time jobs. Blame the league!
Ed Hochuli has been an NFL ref for over 20 years and was a UTEP football player for four seasons. His resume also includes the head of the NFL Referees Association and is one of the most respected and recognized officials in the league. His stance is that officials need to be treated as full-time employees and hiring “scabs” compromises the safety of the players as they are not as well-trained and lack experience on the professional fields.
When I think of “scabs” I think back when my father went on strike from a smoke stack as a blue-collar worker the year I was born. He was angry with those who crossed the picket line as he had six kids to take care of. I don’t usually think about an entertainment and sports industry flooded with multi-millionaires.
However, the NFL officials who are looking for a pension and supplement for leaving their other jobs and going full-time in the NFL are still not budging.
These league officials are cut a check that’s not too shabby. They earn $78,000 to over six-figures.
If the integrity of the game is truly at stake, then lockout the NFL until all necessary and qualified employees are in place on the field.
The replacement refs go home after the game as the real losers. As they are booed from all corners of the globe on a national stage and some go back to work as school teachers during the week.
I’m sure their nerves get the best of them when they go from a high school stadium to MetLife Stadium while being televised in front of millions.
I get the frustration, but redirect it at the league at not at the “fake refs” just trying to do their best in their field and take on a higher challenge and not take away from those who are locked-out. One official who is locked out says the NFL must not care about officiating if they continue to allow these mistakes.
It is their job to be good at what they do. To be familiar with the calls they make. Recognize a penalty as it is taking place. But they are adapting from the NCAA rules to NFL rules. For example, it’s a tough habit to break especially when it comes to the illegal contact penalty – which doesn’t exist in college. But it’s also a learning experience, minus the on-the-job training for them. They were thrown in there and expected to do well. Since the coin-toss confusion to the bean bag being thrown – in between these past two weeks of the regular season, not one bad call affected the outcome of a final game.
The official’s lockout is ongoing. So in the meantime, I hope fans, players and coaches will stop bullying these men and women who are trying their best to keep it at two teams on the field instead of three – the teams versus the Zebras. Start questioning Roger Goodell and the NFL Referees Association to reach a fair collective bargaining agreement.
So, all those “back-seat-referees” who are yelling at the television from their couches need to calm down and assess what’s really going on.