By Steve Silverman
» More Columns
Gary Bettman is not the only commissioner who is making troubling decisions for his sport.
Put Roger Goodell in the same category as the NHL’s Miniature Schnauzer.
A couple of weeks ago, Goodell had his legs cut out from under him when his decision to suspend a number of the New Orleans Saints players involved in the “Bountygate” Pay for Pain scandal was reversed in court.
That was painful for Goodell and may impact his legacy, but his decision to continue to play hardball with the NFL’s regular-game officials is clearly ridiculous.
With each passing game, it seems more obvious that the NFL’s replacement officials cannot get the job done.
It’s only going to get worse as NFL players and coaches realize what these replacements are missing and learn what they can get away with on the field.
For example, there have been 50 pass interference calls in the first two weeks of action, so it seems clear that the replacements are looking for contact when the ball is in the air.
However, when receivers are in their routes and getting redirected by defensive backs, no calls are being made, even though the receivers are well past the five-yard area where contact is legal.
Replacement officials are not calling illegal shift or ineligible man downfield, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The officials are in over their heads, and they don’t act as if they belong on the same field with the greatest football players in the world.
They are afraid to assert themselves, for the most part. Every call is made with a large portion of hemming and hawing.
Goodell and his crew want NFL players and coaches to not take advantage of replacement officials, but that can’t be a serious request. Football is always about winning at all costs, and that means taking advantage of substandard officials who get more nervous every time they throw a flag.
You may have noticed that games are taking significantly longer with replacement officials in charge of the action. You see many more huddles among the officials after flags are thrown, and even when no flags are thrown. The constant need to rehash what has just happened is impacting the rhythm of the game and halting momentum.
Additionally, the game is taking longer because officials are having a harder time spotting the ball. This impacts the speed that a team in a no-huddle offense can get its play called and then snap the ball.
You may have noticed referees letting teams have a fourth time out or making unusual penalty calls. It is quite clear that replacement officials are not well-versed in the rules.
It’s one thing to study the playbook; it’s quite another to make a penalty call at full speed. These replacement officials struggle to make full-speed game calls.
This is most obvious with the frequently called pass interference. The regular NFL game officials see a defensive back impact the receiver at the same time the ball hits his hands and let the play stand. Replacement officials see that and make the PI call.
Sometimes they see a defensive back in the same area as the receiver and simply make a penalty call.
The replacement officials don’t know what they are doing and it’s only getting worse.
While football players and coaches are suffering, David Letterman’s crew of writers are drooling over the pantheon of new material.
Are the replacement officials making you enjoy the games significantly less? Sound off with your thoughts and comments below…