I’m astonished at how bad the NFL’s replacement officials
were in this first week of the season. It’s not that they blew calls. Professional
football is an immensely complicated game played by mind blowing athletes at
mind boggling speeds. Blowing calls happens. My astonishment comes from the
failures to understand game situations, know rules and procedures and the ease
with which crews were intimidated by crowds.
There were at least three games in which officiating crews
just plain botched timeouts, challenges and replays. In the nightcap between
the Broncos and Steelers, the refs didn’t even know to allow a PAT before
granting the two minute warning. Perhaps the Seahawks-Cardinals game will prove
meaningless at the end of the season but it’s unlikely. I’m surprised there
hasn’t been more outcry about that one. (Just because the right team won doesn’t
absolve the officials of blame.) By the way, these aren’t issues related to
game speed, these are issues related to applying knowledge on the fly.
My son is a giant Packers fan (yes, I still claim him) and
even he admitted that the Cheesehead crowd cowed officials into picking up a
flag for an illegal block in the back so clear that it could serve as the
visual illustration for what NOT to do on a kick return. Even gentle Troy
Aikman felt compelled to chide the officials on that one.
There were multiple times yesterday when ball spotting was
so bad as to be almost comical. Ball carriers nearly always advance the ball
when they place it on the turf for spotting. They don’t expect it to work
Hopefully, the accumulated problems of these officials will
encourage the NFL to end its lockout before some team gets obviously robbed by poor
officiating. What? No. No, I don’t really think so either.