As we rejoice in the news that the regular refs will be returning to the NFL tonight (and before the deal is even officially ratified), Youtube brings us this ”homage to the replacement refs, and the work that they did, or didn’t do”.
Ultimately, these guys were put in an impossible situation, and did the best they could given the circumstances. We as fans owe them all a debt of gratitude for at least stepping in and trying to maintain some semblance of order in these games … and for providing us with some truly unforgettable moments.
NFL Replacement Refs – In Memoriam:
Our long national nightmare is finally over.
Per multiple sources (more, more, more, more), the NFL and the referees association have finally reached an agreement to end the lockout, and get the regular refs back on the field as early as Thursday night.
UPDATE: It’s official.
Reportedly, its an 8-year deal that will allow the refs to keep their pension for 5 more years before switching over to a 401k. There will also be a developmental program to train a “taxi squad” of officials that could be called on to replace underperforming refs as needed.
According to NBC’s officiating consultant Jim Daopoulos, the officials will receive a 4% pay raise, with 12 guaranteed game checks per year. The refs also will divvy up $2.5 million to compensate them for missed pay so far this season.
Thank God. Now let’s get back to football (and complaining about the regular refs).
After being on the losing-end of quite possibly the worst call in professional football history (and certainly the most scrutinized), Packers QB Aaron Rodgers stepped up to the mic on his weekly ESPN Radio show yesterday, where he calmly and clearly stated exactly what needed to be said about the NFL and their ongoing labor dispute with the referees.
Rodgers went on a tirade about the overall stance the NFL has taken in all this, later digging into their convoluted statement about the “Innacurate Reception”, and did so with unprecedented candor from an all-pro player (who have all been warned against speaking out against the refs. He even went so far as to apologize to the fans on behalf of the players, noting that the NFL would never do such a thing. And while Rodgers can most certainly expect a fine from Mr. Goodell, if finally having a marquis player step up and make a statement like this forces the league to take a long hard look at itself, then it will all be more than worth it.
You can listen to the whole thing for yourselves HERE, but these are the key excerpts:
“Some stuff just needs to be said,” Rodgers said. “First of all, I’ve got to do something that the NFL is not going to do, and I have to apologize to the fans. Our sport is generated, the multi-billion machine, is generated by people who pay good money to come watch us play. And the product on the field is not being complemented by an appropriate set of officials. The games are getting out of control.
“Like I said in the first week, I said, ‘I’m OK with replacement refs as long as they don’t have a direct impact on the game.’ Obviously last night there was a direct impact on the game on multiple plays that we’ll get into. But my thing is I just feel bad for the fans. Because they’re pay good money to watch this. The game is being tarnished by an NFL that obviously cares more about saving some money than having the integrity of the game diminished a little bit.“
Rodgers went on to point out that this is a league who had previously locked out the players, and are now gambling on low-level officials who are in way over their heads.
As the debate rages on as to just how horrifying the impact of the replacement refs (and the “Inaccurate Reception“) have been to the NFL and its brand, and as the league meets with the NFLRA for the fourth consecutive day with hopes of reaching a settlement and ending the madness, we thought it important to take a step back and at least look at what are keeping the two sides apart in their current labor dispute.
With the sky falling around the NFL today, with Aaron Rodgers calling the league out for tarnishing the game, and with fans threatening boycotts, it would seem that the league would be in a hurry to put this mess behind them. So what, exactly, is the hang up here???
As with every labor dispute ever, this is mostly about money. At the end of the day, we’re talking about $3 million dollars per year for the NFL to fund the NFLRA’s proposal. And while everyone (including us) has cast Roger Goodell as the villain in all of this, it’s important to remember that he works for the 32 NFL owners, and that this lockout is a very calculated business strategy.
The primary issue at hand here is the referees’ pension. The league is looking to move the officials – who are currently part-time employees, mind you – from their existing defined-benefit retirement plan (pension) to a defined-contribution plan, otherwise known as a 401k. Given the state of the economy, it’s something most corporations have done in recent years (although the NFL is a tax-exempt, nonprofit, government-sanctioned monopoly, so …).
The refs aren’t down with that plan, especially since the league’s business is booming to the tune of $10 billion in revenue annually. Last week, the referees’ union offered that new officials would go to a 401k, with existing referees getting grandfathered in under their old pension system, but the NFL hasn’t yet accepted that part of the proposal.
Yes, we realize the poor replacement refs are taking the brunt of all the criticism here, when it really should be directed squarely at Roger Goodell …. but still, this is good stuff (CLICK TO EMBIGGEN):
Laughing to keep from crying … replacementgoogle.com is also hilarious.
This will be the image that encapsulates the replacement referees’ saga during the 2012 NFL season. And hopefully, it will be the moment that finally breaks the back on the league’s lockout of the regular refs:
You’ve all seen it by now (VIDEO HERE). The Seahawks beat the Packers on a last-second hail mary that was somehow ruled a touchdown by one official at the same time as the back judge ruled it an interception. A “Touchception”, if you will. And madness ensued.
The officials even went under the hood to review the play – although technically, posession is not reviewable – and came back with the same decision: Golden Tate had achieved simultaneous posession with M.D. Jennings, awarding the Seahawks a TD. This, despite seemingly obvious video evidence that clearly showed Jennings clutching the ball to his chest before Tate reached an arm in and wrestled the ball away in the pile.
We’ve been saying this since the pre-season, but after this weekend’s games (and particularly the Monday night junk show that we all witnessed), it’s become more than painfully obvious that the replacement officials charged with policing the multi-billion dollar NFL are in over their heads … and it’s having a very real affect on the quality of the product on the field.
And unfortunately, it seems that Roger Goodell just doesn’t care.
Last night’s Falcons-Broncos game put a national spotlight on the problem, as the scab officials bumbled their way through an hour-long first quarter, clearly unable to handle the speed or intensity of the game as it unfolded before them. At one point, there was a 6-minute delay in the action after players got into a shoving match on the field after a fumble, and the replacements struggled to restore order (or make a definitive call on the recovery). The scene has been described as “chaotic”, with MNF announcer Mike Tirico finally breaking down and saying, ”Honestly. It’s embarrassing. The command and control of this game is gone”.
Later, the replacements showed their lack of grasp on the pro rule book with a couple of egregious spots. Toward the end of the half, the Broncos were awarded 10 yards for a defensive holding penalty against Atlanta – an infraction that only carries a 5-yard penalty in the NFL (it’s 10 yards in college). In the third quarter, with Atlanta driving in their no-huddle offense, the game was paused again while the officials sorted out the spot on another defensive holding penalty. This one had been incorrectly spotted from the previous spot, instead of the spot of the foul as NFL rules dictate.
So even when these officials ultimately got the call right (with the help of the on-field NFL officiating supervisor), it completely interfered with the flow of the game, rendering it nearly unwatchable.
We love our GIFs here at ReadAndReact, so we’re starting a new weekly feature where we collect the best GIFs from each NFL week, and post them all in one convenient spot for your viewing enjoyment.
Most of these come courtesy of the always-awesome @SBNation GIF or @CJZero Twitter… so special thanks to those guys. Submit your favorites GIFs to firstname.lastname@example.org, and PLEASE BE PATIENT WHILE THIS PAGE LOADS.
Holy crap, the NFL regular season starts tomorrow!!! Like kids on Christmas Eve, we can barely contain ourselves, so we’ll apologize up front for the relatively small number of GIFs in this week’s post … after all, it was the final week of pre-season, and with the holiday weekend, the interweb was a little bit light on content.
Replacement Officials to start the NFL Season … and we’re in trouble:
Marcus Thomas – who made headlines last week for being incorrectly represented on Madden 13 – scores the ever-elusive big man fumble return … which he nearly fumbles himself:
Thomas was released by the Giants on Friday
On Wednesday, the NFL sent out a memo to all 32 teams to let everyone know that the replacement referees will start the season on September 5th. In it, the league’s Vice President of Football Operations Ray Anderson attempted to claim with a straight face that the current replacement refs are doing an adequate job, and that they feel confident entering the season with a second-rate collection of former Canadian and Lingerie Football League officials:
In light of the current state of negotiations, we will have replacement crews on the field when the regular season begins. The replacements have undergone extensive training and evaluation, and have shown steady improvement during the preseason. We will continue the training with each crew and they will work as much of the regular season as necessary. The replacement officials are dedicated and enthusiastic, have worked very hard to improve, and have persevered despite the attacks on their qualifications and performance. We are all grateful for their service to the NFL.
Obviously, Ray hasn’t been watching the same pre-season games that we all have, because these replacements are clearly not ready for primetime. And despite being directed by the NFL to remain silent on the subject, players and coaches throughout the league have been vocal in their support of the full-time refs. There is a genuine concern from many parties about the integrity of the game – and particularly player safety – if these clowns are allowed to officiate a regular season contest, when everyone is going full-speed, and there is actually something at stake. The league says it will attempt to mitigate this by placing veteran former referees in the booth as “officiating supervisors”, who will attempt to guide the replacements, as well as with expanded use of instant replay on all turnovers and scoring plays.
With the labor negotiations between the league and the NFLRA at a standstill, this is hopefully just a tactic to put pressure on the regular refs to accept their offer and get back to work. But in the mean time, these replacement referees continue to make a mockery of the game, and only prove to strengthen the NFLRA’s stance that the full-time professionals are desperately needed back on the field.
In response to the memo, the NFLRA issued their own statement:
“We are not surprised that the NFL was not going to reach out to us,” the NFLRA said in a statement. “However, this is consistent with the NFL’s negotiating strategy, which has been ‘take it or leave it’ and lock them out. It now appears the NFL is willing to forego any attempt to reach a deal in the last seven (7) days before opening night. It is unfortunate because the Referees want to get back on the field. Our members have been engaged in extensive preparations and are ready to go.
“If the NFL is serious about negotiating, we are ready, but we can’t negotiate with ourselves.”
During last night’s Giants-Patriots snoozefest, the replacements put forth yet another example of their “dedicated and enthusiastic” work … one that starkly contradicts what the league would have you believe about their state of preparedness for the rigors of an NFL season.
VIDEO & BONUS GIF AFTER THE JUMP
As the NFL pre-season kicked off in earnest tonight, with 12 teams getting their first taste of live action in 6 games, we were generally thrilled at the return of our favorite sport to our television sets. But that exuberence was quickly tempered by the painful reminder that these games are currently being officiated by amateurish, inexperienced replacement referees.
There is currently a big black cloud hanging over the 2012 NFL season, in the form of the ongoing labor dispute between the league and the NFL Referees’ Association. And it’s something the league needs to put an end to immediately. Roger Goodell says he’s comfortable with the replacement refs, and the league claims that the substitutes won’t affect the level of play on the field … but we”re not buying that for a second.
Without trying to overstate the seriousness of the situation, and in one of the rare instances we agree with current FOX analyst (and former NFL VP of Officiating) Mike Pereira, this lockout is a threat to the very integrity of the game we love.
Professional football is a multi-billion dollar business, and over the years the NFL has gone to painstaking measures (and financial expense) to put the best product possible on the field. And recently, they’ve been going especially out of their way to put up a pretense of protecting player safety. But for some inexplicable reason, Goodell seems perfectly content to let the quality of his product – and safety of his players – rest on the shoulders of a ragtag bunch of CFL, AFL, LFL (yes, Lingere Football League) and Division II/III referees.
Not surprisingly, this – like every labor dispute in history – is about money. The league is balking at giving the refs a comparable raise to the one they received in 2006, as well as letting the referees keep their pensions.