Editorial: Replacement referees jeopardize safety, integrity of football

By Iowa State Daily Editorial Board

We’ve seen it since week one: replacement referees — as society has learned to call them — have missed calls and become more willing to throw flags, illegal hits and just utter uncertainty with the game.

You think you have seen this before; another rant about replacement referees, and how they simply have struggled for the past four weeks.

But this argument begs more serious questions, such as: When will this end, and how are the botched calls affecting the safety of the players?

In week one, it was a shock to the culture of football players, coaches and fans. “Maybe it was a fluke. It’ll be better next week, right?”

Week two, we saw the same thing. Allotments of extra timeouts, missed calls and incorrect calls, all giving teams an extra 15 yards when they should have been allowed 10.

Football fans may have caught the worst of it during week three. A replacement referee was caught using his Facebook to support the New Orleans Saints… only hours before officiating — yes, you guessed it — the New Orleans Saints’ game.

That raises the question: How many more referees are out there supporting their biases of the teams they so dearly love?

As NFL football fans, most bleed those team colors. But when the zebras are out there bleeding red, black and white for the Bucs and not black and white (the color of the NFL Refs), the line of being biased is crossed.

But the beef with the referees isn’t just with fans.

After Sunday night’s flag fest of a football game with the New England Patriots and the Baltimore Ravens, coach Bill Belichick was seen grabbing an official’s arm after the game was over.

The rule is any physical contact between a coach or player with a referee will result in a fine.

But the rules also state that holding call should be 10 yards and not 15 yards. Maybe Belichick will appeal for off-setting penalties?

But things are looking more and more bleak as we head deeper into the season.

In week four, the fans saw a Dallas Cowboys touchdown possibly slip through the hands of receiver Kevin Ogletree, as he slipped on a hat a replacement ref threw at him.

Yes, his hat.

Olgetree took a (what could have been more dangerous than it was) spill in the end zone. This then begs a more serious calling of what will happen if players become injured because of poor mistakes made by officials?

In week three, Oakland Raiders wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey took a hospitalizing blow to the head when stretching for a reception. Heyward-Bey was knocked unconscious for more than 10 minutes.

Luckily, Heyward-Bey was released Monday afternoon, saying he would be able to make a full recovery.

But where was the flag? How many yards would the Raiders have gained after the illegal hit?

Zero. The hit went unflagged and unfined.

It’s becoming old and it’s only week three. How many more games will fans have to sit through and watch the same old blown pass interference calls or sit through an extra five minutes because the referee allotted a fourth timeout?

Some are saying when TV ratings drop, then the NFL will do something about it. Others say we’ll see replacement referees all season.

Or maybe, just maybe, an agreement is just around the corner. And we won’t have to see the 2012-13 NFL replacement season continue.

Read more here: http://www.iowastatedaily.com/sports/article_8feb9baa-0672-11e2-b684-0019bb2963f4.html
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