The National Football League has, throughout history, had its fair share of controversy. Never, however, have they had the ire of players, fans and the general public, as they have, currently, with the situation between ownership and the referees.
Back in August, when contract negotiations fell deftly out of sync, the steady-handed officials were locked-out, leaving the NFL the choice between conceding some of their wants, during the negotiations, or replacing the officials with lower-level collegiate referees. The NFL, in effort to "protect the shield," opted to continue play with the inexperienced referees, hoping that the game, itself, would overcome any miscues by the officiating teams, Ironically, after three weeks of play, and four dreadful weeks of the preseason, the sentiment is NOT shared by those who truly matter - players and fans.
Taking a mere sample of this weekend's action, we find two glaring instanced of how the NFL, in effort to "protect the shield," is doing more harm than good and putting out a product that is far less than adequate.
On Monday night, September 24, during a game between Seattle and Green Bay, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson tossed a "Hail Mary" that was ruled a completed touchdown pass to former Notre Dame standout Golden Tate. Upon review, it was obvious that defensive back M.D. Jennings had actually taken possession of the ball and that Tate had only one hand on it. According to NFL regulations, in a dispute over possession, in this manner, the offense is given consideration as having possession. However, with Tate not having a firm attempt on the ball, this should not have come into play. Green Bay, as much as this Detroit Lions' fan hates to admit, was hosed by another bad call by inexperienced referees.
Just one day prior, though it may not have had the same impact on the game's outcome as it did between Green Bay and Seattle, the Tennessee Titan were making a considerable drive against the Lions when, on the first possession in overtime, a helmet-to-helmet hit by linebacker Stephen Tulloch resulted in a 15-yard penalty. The penalty yardage, however, would be marked off from the wrong spot, giving the Titans a field goal opportunity they, otherwise, may not have had.
Regardless of the league's visions of grandeur, making the case that the absence of legitimate NFL referees would do little to hurt the game or stop it from being relevant, it has. The current product is horrendous. If the league would pull their heads out of their pocketbooks for an instant, they would see the long-term damage will hurt them in far greater ways than the current contract stalemate would.
The author, D. Benjamin Satkowiak, is a successful entrepreneur and published, freelance author, who has tailored works on various sports, health and fitness topics. He currently serves as a Yahoo! Contributor Network "Featured Contributor" and writes on the Detroit Tigers , Detroit Lions, Great Lakes Loons and Notre Dame football.
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