Where in the world is Ed Hochuli?
What are the consequences of the replacement refs?
By Joe Fuentes
The NFL, in the words of Kenny Loggins and Archer, has reached… “The Danger Zone.” After last night’s unbelievable end to Monday Night Football, with the Seahawks winning against the Packers on one of the most controversial calls of this NFL officials lockout, the NFL is in trouble. Now, there are two things we must understand before we blame the replacement officials for everything. First, teams are playing more aggressively and this shows with the play on the field. This is mostly seen when players complain to the referees, yelling and screaming like kindergarteners to their teacher because little Rodger took their favorite toy. Not only have the players lost respect for the officials, but the coaches have as well. At the end of the Patriots-Ravens Sunday night game, Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick ran after a replacement official, grabbing and yelling at him over whether the Ravens’ game winning field goal was good or not. The second item we must realize is that these replacement officials have had NO prior experience at the professional level. They are simply not qualified to work the games. The NFL tried to setup a training session for the replacement referees before the season started, but couldn’t get it going because the NFL wanted the NFL officials to teach them.
The true group to blame for what’s happening on the field is the NFL. The NFL thought that the replacement officials would work out and that as the season went on, the officials would get better. Last week alone, not including the Seahawks-Packers game, there were six games that had bad or missed calls. In the Ravens-Patriots game, there were bad calls all throughout the game, so many that Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth almost openly laughed about how awful it was getting. In the Vikings’ upset over the 49ers, 49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh received an extra timeout in the final five minutes of the game. But there’s more. In the Redskins-Bengals game, the referees screwed up the yardage on two fouls committed by the Redskins in the final moments of the game, where a 20 yard penalty turned into a 25 yard penalty. When the game ended, Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan ran after officials into the tunnel yelling at them and berating them for their actions. In the Chiefs-Saints game, there were five calls reversed by video review. In the Cowboys-Buccaneers game, the referee threw his hat on the field. At that same moment it landed on the ground, Dallas WR Kevin Ogletree slipped on it in the end zone. Finally the biggest omission came in the Raiders-Steelers game. There were no flags thrown for the helmet-to-helmet hit that left Raiders’ WR Darrius Heyward-Bey motionless on the field for 10 minutes. He was then carted off the field and sent to the hospital where he was diagnosed with a neck injury. It has been reported that he is able to move his extremities and will make a full recovery. Now remember, all this happened in just Week 3 alone.
At the end of the day, we can see that the NFL is at a breaking point with the replacement referees, teams, players, and fans. NFL games are quickly losing the integrity and prestige that made the league a $9 billion empire and the most popular sport in the United States. The NFL has lost any leverage it had with the referees and it needs to act immediately. It is hurting fans, teams, players, and most of all my Chicago Bears and my fantasy football teams (though it is nice seeing Green Bay at the bottom of the division). So where in the world is Ed Hochuli? We need him!
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