I kind of feel bad for the replacement referees.
Yes, I understand that they're not performing up to the same standards as the regular NFL referees usually do. They've screwed up quite a few calls, and some penalties, such as pass interference, have been very spotty. They also don't realize that you can't challenge a play if you don't have any timeouts left, but hey — that's only a minor thing.
But you can't fault them for at least trying.
Especially after this week's series of events, players, coaches and fans have been berating replacement officiating crews for certain calls or non-calls. And when it's all over, I'm sure the general consensus will be that everyone is glad the replacement officials are gone.
But shouldn't we at least be thanking these officials for making sure we at least have football this year?
On one hand, you have to look at things and realize that these men (and women) are not professional NFL referees. Most of them are referees in division I, II and III, or even high school, and while the rules are similar between the levels, there are differences. These referees have had crash courses in the NFL rule book. But they haven't had the same amount of time to learn from other officials about what to look for in a pass interference call, for example. They don't have the same knowledge and wisdom as our regular referees.
In other words, these guys are learning on the fly. They're going to make some rookie mistakes.
And while I don't agree that the replacement referees are the permanent answer in the current state of things, we have to ask ourselves this question: Until Roger Goodell and the regular referees get off their high horses and work out some sort of an agreement, what other choice does the NFL have?
Sure, you could say that we could get other referees to work these games. But who's to say they'll do any better than what's going on now? They'll be in the same situation, and people will probably be saying the same things.
The only other option is to cancel all of the games until this situation works itself out. And I'm pretty darned sure nobody wants that to happen.
Then again, Goodell himself could step in and try and referee some games. But I think we all know that might not end too well for King Roger.
I'll admit, these replacement referees aren't great. Certainly, I miss the consistency (if there ever was such a thing) of our regular referees of Ed Hochuli and Walt Coleman. But when (or if) this saga ends, and our regular referees come back, I'll be the first in line to at least thank these replacements for their time.
Page 2 of 2 - Because if I was stuck without hockey AND football for an entire winter? I don't know what I'd do with myself. I'd probably end up going crazy.
Alix Kunkle is the News Editor of the Leesville Daily Leader in Leesville, La. You may contact him at email@example.com.