It’s only been one game. One measly, meaningless, Hall of Fame game. But that’s all it took for NFL players to notice how much of a nightmare the replacement officiating is going to be for them this season. The average viewer might not have noticed (probably because the Hall of Fame game boasted not a single viewer), but according to players on the Saints and Cardinals, the officiating was horrendous.
In fact, it was laughably bad. According to a report from CBS Sports:
Players gave numerous examples but said two were blatant. In one, officials forgot to move the marker after a 3-yard loss. The loss was followed by an incomplete pass. So it should have been third-and-13 but the marker showed third-and-10 because the official forgot to move it. One sideline erupted over the mistake and the officials corrected it.
On another play, it was explained by players, there was a holding call on a Saints punt return and it took the officials four attempts to correctly spot the football. (I could be wrong but I don’t remember seeing any of this on the broadcast.)
“We were all laughing on the sidelines at how clueless they were,” said one player.
The report also noted that players heard refs loudly arguing amongst themselves, whereupon they began mocking the replacements. Sure it’s just the first game and it’s all in good fun now, but it’s certainly not a good start for the substitute zebras, who might give players, coaches and fans massive headaches for months to come. And that’s more than just the usual headaches if you’re a Jets fan.
Sunday night’s disastrous showing became an even spookier omen when you take into account the report card the National Football League Referees Association (the locked out officials’ union) gave to the replacement refs — it’s one they might not want to hang on their refrigerator. Among the calls they missed were… (drum roll, please)
A touchdown ruled short. A no call for offensive holding in the end zone. A no call for illegal motion. No call for kicking team member going out of bounds and touching ball first. Wrong penalty enforcement for offensive holding. No call for illegal hands to the face. No call for facemask. No call for helmet to helmet on defenseless punter. The royally screwed up hold on a punt return. No call on intentional grounding. No call on defensive offsides.
I know these refs are scorned, and these are calls they might miss too from time to time, but guys, this isn’t good. It’s going to be a long season for the NFL if the replacement refs can’t seriously bone up on the rule book in the next month.
[h/t CBS Sports, photo via]