It’s Time to Bring Back the Real NFL Referees

RefereeFootball season is starting and, unless you have been living under a rock since the last Super Bowl, you are probably aware that the NFL is in the middle of a labor dispute with their referees. The NFL is a $8,000,000,000+ a year business. In case you are wondering the team owners are attempting to save about $62,500 dollars a year per team. There are currently 119 officials who make an average of $8,000 dollars a game. Being very generous with the owners and how much they pay the refs (about 2 million a year total for the entire crew), that is .025% of their entire revenue. OK, I’m done throwing numbers at you as I can see your eyes glazing over with boredom, let’s get to the meat: why the referees are important.

We, as football fans, certainly don’t go to the game to see the referees. We go to see the players & the action. You go to see Peyton Manning throw a perfect spiral or Calvin Johnson making a catch that seems impossible. You go to see Ndamukong Suh crush the opposing quarterback or Darrelle Revis pick one off and return it for a touchdown. In fact, in a really good game you won’t even be talking about the refs afterwards because they will have been practically invisible. Without a doubt the players are the star attraction, but would they be without the refs?

I’ve watched a significant amount of preseason football this year, more than any other preseason I can remember. The replacement refs are, to put it bluntly, terrible. The NFL rulebook is a complex manual that reads like something of a cross between the Half Blood Prince’s potion book and a law journal. The NFL rulebook is 244 pages long, for comparisons’ sake, the MLB book is 128 pages, the NHL and NBA can go straight to hell as they don’t have their rulebooks in a format easily countable or the PDF won’t load. Anyway, 244 pages is a small paperback book, and to top it off there are (sometimes miniscule or arcane) changes and tweaks every year and the officials are supposed to stay on top of every one of them.

The other thing the regular officials handle, that the replacements are having trouble with, is the speed of the game. Yes, sitting at home drinking beer and watching our flat screens we can watch a super slow-motion high-definition replay and see that yes, the referee blew that pass interference call. Now try making that same judgment while players are running at top speed and you are doing the same. If the replacement refs struggled in the preseason, imagine how they are going to struggle during the regular season when the game is moving faster and the hits are bigger. It’s not going to be pretty.

Your average NFL official has to be in pretty good physical shape as they may have to run up to 7 miles a game. We’ve all seen Ed “bring out the big guns” Hochuli, but seriously take a moment to look at some of the other officials and you will see that despite their age they are all in excellent physical condition. The average NFL official also has several duties on the field and you will find that each official has at least one responsibility that overlaps with another official so they don’t miss calls. These guys also are on the field with little in the way of padding or protective gear while linebackers who hit like a city bus are flying around the field. Sometimes the officials are on the wrong end of a tackle as players get so focused they don’t even notice the zebras and BAMN! Down goes your field judge.

Roger Goodell, as much as I think he is a slime bucket, is not in fact responsible for the lockout. It’s the super wealthy owners. But still, we direct our anger at him because he is the mouthpiece. He recently came out and said he thinks the replacements will do a fine job. I’m not sure if he was holding back a laugh when he said it or if he hasn’t watched a down of preseason football but I have seen bad spots, lost spots, badly missed calls, not knowing which teams are on the field, bad timekeeping, un-timed downs and even a bad touchback (the guy was clearly not in the end zone, the ref signaled touchback and the coach had burn a challenge to get it overturned). Can you imagine what is going to happen when a coach runs out of challenges in the first quarter because the refs are terrible? Does the NFL really want people coming out of week 1 to be talking about how their team lost because Joe Schmoe from the Lingerie Football League missed an obvious touchdown? (I’m not kidding, one of the replacement refs has LFL at the top of his resume).

The referees serve a vital function in keeping the game flowing at a smooth pace, something these replacements are pretty much incapable of. They help protect the players from injury, something you’d think with all the concussion talk in the news and the pending lawsuits the owners would be concerned about putting on a good front about. Yes, even the regular refs miss some calls but if you thought it was bad before (and it wasn’t) just wait until week 1 when the games turn into giant cluster%$#@s.

Weekly Picks

For the year my wife and I will be having a small contest to see how good I am at picking games. I will pick after having studied the teams and knowing the players. My wife, who used to work for the NFL in a merchandise capacity and whose football knowledge is from the early 90’s, will just go with who she thinks sounds like a winner. I’m opening myself up to some taunting if she does better than I do, so the pressure is on. Also I don’t pick by line, I just flat out pick winners and losers. I’m not a sports gambler.

Home team is in caps.

Mr. Ross Picks
GIANTS over Cowboys, BEARS over Colts, Eagles over BROWNS, Patriots over TITANS, CHIEFS over Falcons, VIKINGS over Jaguars, SAINTS over Redskins, Bills over JETS, LIONS over Rams, TEXANS over Dolphins, Niners over PACKERS, Seahawks over CARDINALS, Panthers over BUCS, BRONCOS over Steelers, RAVENS over Bengals, RAIDERS over Chargers.

Mrs. Ross Picks
Giants, Bears, Eagles, Patriots, Chiefs, Vikings, Redskins, Jets, Lions, Texans, Packers, Seahawks, Panthers, Broncos, Ravens, Chargers.

Coming up next week, College Football.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *