The media loves to latch onto something and just ride that dead horse until there’s nothing left but bones. The past 2 weeks, that dead horse has been the issue of replacement referees. I keep getting beaten over the head with the over-analysis, hyper-critical rhetoric about these replacement referees. I get it; they aren’t as good. But we would NEVER break down the regular refs this much, and guess what, they missed calls all the time. The difference is, we didn’t put ever step the regular officials make under the microscope, but boy howdy we are these replacements. All this paranoia has made the entire argument seem less meaningful.
Neither side in this is handling it correctly. The critics of the commissioner Roger Goddell and the NFL keep preaching about the product on the field and safety of the players and the league needs to cave and give these guys what they want. The reality is, the product on the field wasn’t great before, and the notion of player safety is bogus. The best official isn’t going to stop a helmet to helmet hit, and the worst official is going to not call it.
The fact of the matter from the league side is, they are the 800 lb gorilla in the room and they will do what they want. And you fans have yourselves to blame for that. They don’t need any extra money, and the money the regular referees want is coins in the couch cushions to the league. But it’s not about what they can afford. It’s about doing what they want. And fresh off a labor dispute with players where the league had to give in more than they would have liked, they won’t do the same with the officials. And they are doing it because they can.
But the regular referees aren’t without blame here as well. The real issue of this on the referee’s side of this for me is grounded in something I heard on the radio the other day. Mike and Mike on ESPNradio were interviewing NFL referee big shot Mike Carey. Mike Greenberg brought up the issue of the regular NFL officials devoting themselves full time to officiating, if they were to get the financial increases they were demanding. Carey skirted the issue heavily and refused to comment in anything but maybes and it’s something to consider double talk. These men already make over $100k a year for a part time job. A part time job they mess up. Quite a bit. The league wants to make them more accountable for their part time job, and God forbid these officials have to be held to a tighter standard, since they are paid such a penance for their hard work.
If I am the league, I don’t budge on anything if all these regular officials won’t commit to putting in full time effort into this job. All of these guys have other jobs that absorb far more of their time than officiating, and NFL fans, if you want better officiating, it’s going to take time dedicated to the game, and Carey running his own company, doing all his inventing and all the other careers these other officials have is only hindering that. If these referees want a raise on their part time jobs, perhaps they should be willing to give more than part time effort.
The bottom line on it is, as much as fans will complain, and as much as the media types will scrutinize, these games are going to be watched, and as long as they are, there is no leverage for the NFL to change a thing. I just hope if this does extend deep into the season, the analysts will eventually shut up about picking apart these replacements, and talk about something else, like say football. And keep in mind my point of view. I can sit and watch 10 hours of college football without a break, no matter the teams and love every minute. But an NFL game that doesn’t involve the Pittsburgh Steelers, regardless of the referees is almost unwatchable for me.
Where do you stand on the issue of the referees? Are you the melodramatic type that thinks it’s ruining the league, or do you support the league in holding onto their money just because they can? Come find me on Twitter @nfldraftboard and let me know where you stand.