Friday, September 21, 2012

Take it Easy on NFL Replacement Referees!

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-Digger's Weekly-

Fans, players and coaches need to quickly realize the current crop of replacement referees are doing the best they can under extremely difficult and unfortunate circumstances. Everyone needs to understand these replacements are low on the totem pole. Quick meaning: the top refs are in NCAA division I representing hundreds of games. Don't forget about refs covering Division II. Division III. Figure into the equation the remaining top refs operating top high school divisions. Who was left? Imagine drafting a first year NFL team and not being allowed a single draft pick until round 7? In reality, none of them are rated within the top 300 (perhaps 500). It's not a knock - just a cold hard reality.

This is what we have folks. Personally, even with all of the confusion and missed calls, these fine men deserve a pat on the back and a beer! Professional NFL officiating crews have worked together for years. Replacement refs have been thrown together at the last minute. Their resumes consist of officiating much slower paced games well below NFL levels. So, everyone suck it up and play ball. Give these guys a break.

Now for the bigger issue...

Let's get one thing straight. The National Football League's failure successfully negotiate terms and adequately compensate professional referees is a travesty. Cutting right through all the nonsense I offer this question: How does the NFL Commissioner and owners justify failing to uphold the integrity of professional football by locking out the best of the best? Impossible.

How do owners justify paying players millions and not preserving the integrity of games?

While no one knows the exact details of current negotiations one thing seems certain. The league is satisfied with the status quo. If you're telling me the league can't pony up from various cash cows then we really have a problem. The owners are savvy businessmen so finding a common ground shouldn't be as difficult as things currently seem.

Speaking of problems - integrity of games. Look at how many stoppages we've witnessed in the first two weeks. Continuity and cohesiveness of gameplay is suffering due to multiple huddles, missed calls, invisible calls and extending time spent determining what to do. The pace of a few games has been agonizing. The game is just too fast for the replacements. They've been thrown into the toughest of situations with the entire football world analyzing every single move made. They're just in over their collective heads. I don't blame them at all for events happening on the field. Not one bit. It's a league problem and Commissioner Goodall needs to rectify this mess in a hurry.

Is there a larger unspoken problem on the horizon? What if one or two or three replacement refs aren't on the up and up. Stating the obvious... there's a gambling element out there looking to capitalize on current events. Temptation dangled in front of refs with nothing to lose, especially after being chastised week after week, makes them easy prey. It wouldn't be the first time refs were approached to fix games. Hopefully, the league is policing these guys. But, one can't be everywhere all the time so we'll probably never know until it's too late (or not at all).

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