Replacement Refs Changing NFL To "National Frustration League"

By Ben Grimaldi

Foot Locker employees everywhere should be tweeting and speaking out over what Brandon Spikes said after the New England Patriots lost to the Baltimore Ravens last night. They should be demanding an apology from the emotional linebacker, after all, what is wrong with working at Foot Locker?

If you missed it, Spikes let loose with this tweet, Can someone please tell these f—ing zebras foot locker called and they’re needed Back at work !!!! #BreakingPoint

Reading that tweet you get the sense he’s getting frustrated with the officials.

So is Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Larry Foote, who reportedly told the replacement officials after the Steelers loss to the Oakland Raiders they should “go kill themselves.” Wow, that’s pretty harsh but you can feel the frustration from Foote too.

Then there was New York Jets linebacker Bart Scott, (maybe it’s a linebacker thing?), who last week told Jets reporter Dan Leberfeld he was going to “smack the s— out of him” after taking his picture in the Jets locker room. This has nothing to do with the refs but you can see that something is bothering Scott as well.

And if you think it’s just the players that are frustrated you can throw that theory out the window after Pats head coach Bill Belichick grabbed an official after his team lost to the Ravens on a last second field goal. It’s unclear if he was mad about the field goal being called good or if it was in response to a horrendously officiated game between the Patriots and Ravens last night? Either way, his actions were unacceptable.

Assistant coaches have also grown extremely frustrated, it has been reported by ESPN radio 980 in Washington that Washington Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan went after an official after the ‘Skins loss yesterday. He apparently told the ref, “you have no f—ing balls, you’re a f—ing p—y.”

This an example of poor sportsmanship and a complete lack of control by a coach, not matter what the situation.

We can go back to last week to find more lack of composure from a coach when New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin acted like a complete jerk in yelling at Greg Schiano after the game when the Giants defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers over a questionable play to end that game. Whether you agree with Coughlin or not about the play, there is a time and place to discuss things like that and acting like a child and throwing a fit for everyone to see shows a lack of judgement as well.

No matter how you look at any of these examples, one thing is apparent, the NFL has lost control. There is frustration everywhere you turn and the league is looking like an absolute joke right now. The season so far has been more about the officials and the lack of common decency from anyone involved with the league, than it has been about the games. That is not good.

When Roger Goodell took over as the Commissioner of the NFL in 2006 he made it his mission to clean up the game, especially off the field. He’s done so with harsh fines and suspensions. I admire his pursuit of getting the focus back to the game of football and not on the individuals off of the field. His track record in this area has been very good and I applaud his aggressiveness in holding players accountable for their actions.

However, the inmates are running the asylum right now. How has it gotten to the point where players and coaches are screaming at the officials and nothing is being done? There is no way John Fox should be able to act like he did last Monday night on the sidelines without getting fined. Bill Belichick should be suspended, so should Kyle Shanahan, Bart Scott, Brandon Spikes and most of all, Larry Foote. These actions are inexcusable and the precedent must be set now!

The emphasis should be on the games, not the officials or the behavior of the coaches and their players. The first few weeks have turned into amateur hour and there are way too many adults acting like children.

We all know the replacement officials have done a poor job and it seems as though they are getting worse every game but there is no need for the childish attitude we are seeing. Every team is playing with the same set of rules and level of officiating so they need to learn how to deal with it better. Right now, the NFL is embarrassing itself.

The National Football League needs its regular officials back; I understand that most of this is in relation to the replacement refs but you cannot let that be the identity of the league. The games need to be what drives the sport, not officiating. Roger Goodell needs to step in and take control of the situation before it boils over even more and an entire season is tainted.

I’m also not naive enough to say they need to think about the kids watching and having them think it’s ok to act this way when things don’t go your way but part of me can’t help but think of the way it affects them. Don’t most parents and coaches tell kids “it’s only a game?” If so, what do these actions say to the young generation watching? That it’s fine to act like a jerk if you can’t get your way?

I am probably reaching here but sadly this is a generation where television has a great deal of influence over the youth of America and a better example must be set. Speaking of television, the league should be worried about ratings dropping in the near future.

The NFL is in a state of frustration right now, not only with its coaches and players but the fans as well. Something needs to be done quickly to get it back to being about the sport.

Otherwise, the NFL may need to take a timeout and sit in the corner. Hey, it worked for my parents when I was growing up, perhaps the NFL needs to grow up too.

you can follow Ben on twitter @BenGrimaldi

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