As a fan of the New Orleans Saints, I know that my team has played bad football, and the Saints deserve the 0-3 record they currently have. A combination of bad decisions, poor execution and a clear lack of a head coach have led to this disappointing start. However, a glance around the league shows that the NFL's replacement officials are generally doing a less than adequate job themselves. While Saints fans can't blame the refs, the officiating certainly does not make the situation any easier.
With the outcome of Monday's game between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks directly affected by the replacement refs, I am hoping the league now acts quickly to get its officials back on the field soon. While NFL referees have never been perfect themselves, there has been an obvious misunderstanding of rules in nearly every game I've seen this year officiated by the current substitutes.
Below are just some of the complaints I have about watching the NFL this year due to the replacement officials.
These games are taking too long, mainly because the officials must conference often to ensure they are making the correct calls. This is at least understandable and somewhat acceptable since these refs are new to the league. Getting the calls correct is the most important thing, and fans will be patient if games are long, but calls are correct.
In this case the games are extended for other reasons though. For example, I have the seen the replacement officials call for measurements of lengths that are basically a full yard. I saw one measurement that was at least a yard and possibly more. This gives teams more time to rest and plan strategy, while preventing the game from moving quickly the way fans enjoy it.
Too Many Reviews
There are just too many replay reviews in the NFL right now, leading to my first complaint about the games taking too long. Again, it stops the game from moving for the players. For fans, it seems like we have a commercial break at some point within every long drive and then also at the end of a drive if a team scores. I flipped through eight channels of games in the first half on Sunday, and all of the channels were showing commercials. It turned out that several of them were having plays reviewed at the same time.
Getting Plays Wrong on the Field
By making the wrong call on the field, the replay review must show enough evidence to overturn it, which is not always easy to find. In overtime of Sunday's Saints game, a Kansas City runner was obviously down, when New Orleans defenders took the ball and ran down the field to score a winning touchdown. Two officials signaled a touchdown. Everyone could see the runner was down, but we had to endure a booth review, and Kansas City had extra time to decide their next move.
In most cases the officials are not winning and losing these games. But as a fan of an NFL team, this season is not as fun to watch, and I never thought I would miss the refs so much.
Mike Patton is a sports fan who grew up in New Orleans cheering for the New Orleans Saints, Chicago Cubs, and LSU Tigers. As a kid in 1987, he made his first trip to Wrigley Field and also slept outside of the Louisiana Superdome to purchase playoff tickets for the Saints' first postseason appearance. Follow Mike on twitter @MikePattonGBS.