Calling the shots: NFL replacement refs falter
Published: Thursday, September 27, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 27, 2012 00:09
Leading up to Week Three’s Monday Night Football debauchery featuring the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks, the replacement officials had been mediocre, at best. It was simply a matter of time before a lapse in their judgment would decisively determine the outcome of a regular season game. Too late, Seahawks win 14-12. I’m not sure what’s more appalling: the missed offensive pass interference call immediately preceding Golden Tate’s 24-yard game-winning touchdown reception or the blown call that actually ruled the play a touchdown in the first place. M.D. Jennings clearly intercepted the ball, and the Packers clearly should have won 12-7.
Let’s first breakdown the missed offensive pass interference call. Some of you may remember Reggie Miller, but if not, here’s a reminder. He once scored eight points in 8.9 seconds against the New York Knicks in Game One of the 1995 NBA Eastern Conference Finals. I’m as big of a Miller fan as they come, but I’ll also be the first to admit that he didn’t “steal” the inbound pass from Anthony Mason. He pushed him down and received the pass intended for Mason. In fact, that’s just what Tate did to Packer cornerback Sam Shields. When Tate was asked if he pushed off of Shields in an interview following the game, he responded by saying, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t know what you’re talking about.” We all saw the replay Mr. Tate. Good try, though. The same should also be said to Monday’s officiating crew. Good try, (insert expletive of your choice here) wannabe zebras.
Let us now turn our attention to the second of the two gaffes. As one official was busy ruling the play a touchdown, a second referee began waving his arms in the air as if to signal for a touchback, indicating that both officials were clearly as lost as Gorilla Zoe. The play was ultimately and incorrectly ruled a touchdown on the field, and it was incorrectly upheld as a touchdown following an official review. The officials’ charades did not stop there, however, as they summoned both teams out of their locker rooms and back onto the field to kick a meaningless extra point with no time remaining. Hadn’t they done enough damage already?
In an ironic twist, the officiating supervisor was none other than Phil Luckett, the same official that botched a coin toss earlier this season. He’s also the one that awarded a phantom touchdown to Vinny Testaverde and the New York Jets against the Seahawks in 1998. Maybe he was just trying to right his wrong against the Seahawks from 14 years ago. Or perhaps he just felt badly for Tate when he dropped that go-ahead touchdown earlier in the fourth quarter of Monday’s game. That poor guy.
So what does Monday’s officiating disaster entail? For one, at least $150 million in bets were shifted as a result of the referees’ shenanigans. Secondly, Footlocker called, and it wants its employees back. Lastly, you know there’s that one guy who was winning his fantasy football matchup by one point prior to the last play of Monday’s game, but his opponent was, for some unjustifiable reason, starting Tate in his lineup as a desperate last-second flex play.
But seriously, the safety of the players is in jeopardy, and so is the integrity of the game. So at the end of the day, isn’t the NFL to blame for not ending the lockout with its referees much sooner? No. Regular officials get slandered and publicly ostracized all the time, so why should it be any different for replacement referees that are dumber than multiple sacks of nickels?
According to a recent report, the NFL and the union are close to a deal that would allow the league’s regular officials to return to work, possibly as soon as this weekend. But really, there’s no hurry. At least I can blame my fantasy football team’s early season struggles on the replacement officials for the time being.