Why the hate against replacement NFL referees?

Disclaimer: I am a Seahawks fan so over the past few years my team has missed the playoffs because of errors by the “real refs” and arguably we lost a Super Bowl because of them.

I don’t see the real refs as a bastion of competency. Maybe these replacement refs are not as good but they are making a concerted effort to get the calls and the rules right. I hear on sports radio how there will be be a bad call that determines who goes to the playoffs (see above for the reason for my :rolleyes: ) which makes me think the memory span of a sports radio guy is on par with a goldfish. So my question is why all of the haters drinking their Hateraid out there? Is it:

  1. More of a hate to the NFL over locking out the reals refs over a few tenths of a percent of revenue? Replacement refs caught in the middle.

  2. Fans have forgotten that the real refs had their issues too and so it is an unfair comparison as to how the replacement refs are doing.

  3. The replacement refs truly are so incompetent that teams are winning because of bad calls.

  4. By ruling that pass an incomplete, you came in third in your fantasy football league OR You took the over and goddammit that touchdown should have counted.

For me, it’s a matter of controlling the game. The refs are throwing unnecessary penalty flags (like the phantom pass interference call at last night’s Pats vs. Ravens game), and NOT throwing flags for scuffles and outright fights. In week two, there was a multi-player brawl with punches at the Rams game, and not a single flag was thrown.

Players are taking advantage of the situation and getting in cheap hits, and its bad for the game.

As Astral Rejection says, they’re completely overmatched by the players and coaches as far as keeping the game under control. They’re timid and afraid to make calls, so the players keep pushing to see how much they can get away with. The replacements aren’t drawing the lines that the regular officials do (I’m not sure they’re really drawing any lines at all), so the games are always just on the edge and often over it.

A few other problems:
[li]They’re incredibly inconsistent, especially with illegal contact/defensive holding/pass interference calls. Because those plays are called differently by each crew, and called differently by the same crew throughout the game, nobody knows what they can and can’t do in the secondary.[/li][li]They don’t know the rules. There’ve been a couple of games where a team has been given 4 timeouts in a half, where coaches have been allowed to challenge plays that weren’t reviewable, wher the wrong distance is paced off for penalties and/or the ball is spotted in the wrong place, etc.[/li][li]Even when they do know the rules, they take way too long to get them right and get play started again. They’re disrupting the pace of the game, preventing teams from getting into a rhythm, and adding 10 to 20 minutes to each game.[/li][/ul]
This article talks about a few of the mistakes (as in, objectively wrong calls) made by the officials yesterday. It’s not necessarily their fault, but the NFL has taken officials from lower level college divisions, arena football, and semi-pro games and just thrown them into the fire. Late in the night game yesterday, Cris Collinsworth said (I think this is verbatim, but it may not be exactly right), “they’re doing their best, but they’re just not qualified for this job. They’re really not.”

Your OP mentioned two particular mistakes made by the regular officials, but you’re reaching back to the 2005 season. The article linked above describes 7 blown calls yesterday.

Goodell continues to ruin the game with his greed

The regular refs do blow calls. But not nearly as often as these guys. I suspect many of these replacements could become competent NFL refs if they had the time to learn, and were integrated into existing referee crews where they were the only rookies on the crew till they became accustomed to the NFL game and the behaviour of the NFL players. But they’re all-rookie crews and they’re just in way over their heads.

Piling onto Astral Rejection’s points, the primary concern for me watching the replacements is that they do not have either control of the game or respect from the players. Accordingly, the players are pushing to see how far they can go. At this rate, it will result in a serious brawl. Even with the protective gear, as powerful as today’s players are, I am concerned that we’ll have a Kermit Washington-Rudy T type punch and someone will get seriously injured or die on the field. At least it’s unlikely that multiple players can get into the stands in an NFL stadium…

Then there’s the inconsistency and the screwing up of what should be trivial administrative tasks, getting the number of challenges or timeouts left wrong.

Finally, (hat-tip to Simmons’s article bringing this up) there’s the IMHO, not insignificant possibility that one or more might be on the take. When the NFL does such a terrible job vetting their officiating candidates as to allow guys who: wear Saints regalia on his Facebook page, chide a player for screwing up the ref’s fantasy team, and garbage like that; I imagine the NFL didn’t also do a very good job vetting the replacements’ financials. I just don’t want to see a Donaghy-type situation developing.

That article doesn’t even mention the Saints game, where the Saints were given a gift “turnover” when Dexter McCluster was injured, clearly gave himself up by going to the ground no longer trying to advance, and dropped the ball…likely due to breaking his arm or hyperextending the elbow. The refs also missed a blatant illegal formation call against KC, towards the end of the game, where KC lined up with pretty much only the center on the line of scrimmage, with the rest of the line in a staggered “V” formation on either side of the center. You have to have 5 guys on the line of scrimmage, and they didn’t come close.

The regular NFL refs are not exactly popular, but the replacements have a very shaky grasp of the rules and their lack of confidence is very obvious. That’s encouraging the criticism almost as much as the mistakes themselves. Many penalties or non-penalties are judgment calls and those will always be debatable, but I think the rate of major errors is higher. And yes, a lot of the criticism centers around the fact that the NFL has compromised the quality of the game by locking out the regular refs over a small amount of money by the league’s standards.

What I don’t get is the compplaints about the slow pace of the game. Yes, these guys aren’t as expert as the regular refs. Yes, these guys are uncertain. Yes, these guys feel the need to consult with each other a lot. But if they were NOT slowing down the game to doublecheck their calls, wouldn’t you be going even crazier?

Yes, it’s better that they take their time and get it right than hurry up and make even more mistakes, but they’re still making the games longer because they don’t know what the rules are. It also seems to be true that this story is reaching critical mass: after week one people seemed to feel overall the replacements had done a decent job, but there have been more complaints about weeks two and three, which means more stories about the complaints, which means more complaints, and the cycle repeats itself.

The officiating in last night’s game - the prime-time marquee game of the day - was horrendous. Phantom interference calls; questionable spotting of the ball; letting guys get in forearm blows to the head and horse-collars and muggings in the open field but then turning around and throwing the flag on the most questionable holds.

It got so bad that even the announcers were questioning the last-second field goal call. That was a great game ruined by inconsistant and spotty officiating. I’d have loved to see that game called by a professional crew; it was a fabulous matchup otherwise.

And like I said, it was a showcase game. I can’t imagine what is was like for the tier-2 games of the day that didn’t even have a national broadcast.

Drew Magary (Deadspin writer) had a couple good tweets last night about this. Obviously, he’s making jokes, but there’s some truth in the humor. The first is that the refs are just throwing flags and then meeting to figure out the penalty (there seem to be lots of conferences for simple calls) and the second was that John Harbaugh had unlimited challenges, because all Harbaughs apparently get as many timeouts and challenges as they like.

The biggest single issue that just leaps out at me after the games this week is that apparently receivers are allowed to push off the defenders at will without risk of drawing a flag, while a defender that is in the same zip code as a receiver may get flagged for pass interference or defensive holding at any time, whether they actually touch the receiver or not.

Second on my list is it appears to no longer be possible to get ejected. Conrad Dobler would love these guys. I’ve seen players throw punches in several games without getting tossed, and that is a dangerous trend.

I agree with the posts here and the feeling that the game is losing quality as a result of a dispute over a pittance - there is simply no excuse for not getting the pro refs back on the field ASAP.

The scrums and extrcurricular violence is turning the game into a gang fight. I watched two great games yesterday that were marred by stupid violence that is being allowed to progress as the games go on. The cheap head-shots should get an automatic ejection - yesterday a Raider receiver was knocked out and had to be carted off the field, and the Texan’s quarterback lost part of his earlobe due to helmet-to-facemask hits. I do not want to see that crap! The replacement refs have lost control of the game - and with the players and coaches learning how to play in the new system and avoid penalties, I think we can count on more major injuries as the season wears on.

It’s not hate for me, but I’d really like to see the regular officials back in the game.

One of the commentators pointed out last week that these guys are not the second string of officials. The second string officials already have jobs in top colleges and the CFL or such. These guys are like the fourth string - the ones who were available.

And it shows. We’re seeing more questionable calls in a week than we’d normally see in an entire season.

It’s apparently random so it’s not biasing the game for or against any particular teams. But it is introducing a random factor into games - ideally, a game should be decided by the comparative skills of the two teams, not by bad calls. These bad calls are effecting play because players are looking to see what they can get away with. It’s also making players frustrated and I feel this is causing more problems in the game. And it’s adding a lot more delays to games - I wouldn’t be surprised if the average game length this season is fifteen or twenty minutes longer than usual.

Too many do-overs.

Fuck the NFL for foisting these fucking officials on the fans and the teams. It isn’t their fault, but they suck. Badly.

Actually, you could argue the other side quite easily, that the refs are ruining the game with their greed. Let’s think about this for a minute: to settle this thing under the terms that the refs want, it would cost the NFL around $3 million, plus later ancillary fees and costs such as pensions. Are they hurting for that kind of money? Certainly not. But what does the NFL want?

  1. They want a certain number, and eventually all, of the referees to be full-time refs. The refs fight this because they make serious loot in their real jobs and then make serious loot for their part-time referee jobs. Is it unreasonable to surmise that someone doing a job full-time will do better at it than someone who does it part-time?

  2. The NFL wants to take the pension plan and switch it to a 401(K), thus deferring their responsibility for it onto the refs themselves. Big deal. This has long been the trend among businesses, it eliminates legacy costs. Granted, the refs don’t cost that much, but that’s not the point.

  3. The refs want a pay raise. Who doesn’t want a pay raise? I guess $4000-8000 isn’t sufficient compensation for 3 hours of work and 30 hours of prep time. Their time is more valuable than that, what with being lawyers and lobbyists and such. To which I say, stay at those jobs or become full-time officials. Choose, just like every other sport’s full-time official corps.

So, who is really doing the deed here? The NFL, by locking the officials out, certainly has some culpability, but the officials want their cake and they want to eat it, too, and are doing far more (in my opinion) to prolong this. They’re hoping, with much justification, that the NFL will fold up and give in after the replacement refs make some bad calls. People are feeding into this, and so the refs are likely to get a hell of a lot more than they should and the NFL will be stuck with refs that are on aggregate only slightly better than the ones they have now, and part-time to boot.

Greed? That is hardly the sole province of the NFL or Roger Goodell, and in fact lies chiefly with the zebras in this case.

Why is the league pushing this issue? Does it have any effect on the officiating?

I wonder if the motive is to make officials more pliable. A union of part-time refs who have well-paying outside jobs is a long stronger than a union of full-time refs who are dependent on their officiating incomes. The league might be thinking that if they can win this point now, they won’t have to worry about future labor problems.

The refs are likely to get exactly what they deserve. Apparently, they are not easily replaceable, and they are worth quite a bit more than their compensation indicated.

Also, do you actually believe the NFL refs are only slightly better than the replacement refs? If so, then that’s where the point of contention is. We need to resolve that point long before we can expect to have any progress deciding whether the refs are underpaid.