With the NFL and the NFL Referee Association locked in negotiations and the refs striking, the replacement referees hired by the NFL to take over have been a major topic of discussion for players, coaches and fans across the country. The refs have become even more of a source of blame by the players than they were before, though it’s hard to really blame either side.
You cannot blame the replacement refs for the job they are doing. They are simply not qualified to ref these games, which are must faster and more difficult to keep up with than the D-III college games most of these guys are used to. They have affected the outcome of a few games with terrible calls, they are making the product on the field worse and extending games by taking too long to make calls and review plays.
Simply put, they have no control of the game.
You also cannot blame the players for feeling the way that they do. Maybe they shouldn’t be talking about it to the media, but that’s a whole other issue. The players are pretty much unanimous in their feeling that the refs are affecting games and have taken to their post-game soap boxes to complain about it.
But some of them are out of control.
Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Larry Foote made a comment that just has no place anywhere. Something like this should not be said in any forum, let alone publicly by a professional athlete. According to CBS Pittsburgh, Foote told the replacement refs “You should go kill yourselves. Y’all (bleep)ing suck!” as he was walking off the field into the locker room after the game against the Oakland Raiders.
There were multiple missed calls in this game and a couple of dirty plays that were not flagged. The one that Foote was clearly the most upset about was Ziggy Hood getting chop blocked by Willie Smith while he was tangling with Mike Brisiel.
Hood was injured on the play, but no flag was thrown. Still, it doesn’t warrant this type of reaction from Foote. I understand the frustration, but come on, where is your head at?
I imagine the league will take notice and fine Foote, but in my opinion this is a suspendable offense. There is no way commissioner Roger Goodell, regardless of how well you think the refs are faring, can allow comments like these to fly without major penalties. Fines typically do not have their intended effect, but suspensions get through to players.
Make an example of Foote, Goodell, and prevent comments like these in the future.