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Morgan

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#15 : August 06, 2012, 04:00:24 PM

NFL game officials: Safety a concern using replacement refs

In addition to the expected components of pay, pension and protection that have comprised the typical sticking points in their negotiations with the league for a new collective bargaining agreement, NFL game officials Wednesday raised a somewhat unexpected issue that could be one key ramification of a lockout.

Player safety.

"If (some) calls aren't made ... you're going to have some (unsafe) things going on, and it could get a little nasty in there," said referee Scott Green, president of the NFL Referees Association, during a midday conference call with national media.

The league on June 3 locked out the NFLRA, whose CBA with the NFL expired on May 31, and has proceeded with plans to hire replacement officials for the season. It is believed that training sessions for proposed replacements are being conducted this week. But the NFLRA representatives who participated in the Wednesday call acknowledged reservations about the ability of the fill-ins to arbitrate the games.

Green contended the replacements are "not of NFL quality," and said that officiating an NFL game is "more than collecting a group of guys and sending them to two days of a training camp." High-profile referee Ed Hochuli, a past NFLRA president, likened the potential of using replacement referees to sending a team of doctors who had never previously performed surgery into an operating room. "You wouldn't expect that in any kind of profession," Hochuli said.

The unusual and relatively fresh element discussed, though, was player safety. It is a significant issue potentially, but one that had not previously generated much attention. Some might contend that the issue was broached by officials on Wednesday as simply another point of posturing and a bit self-serving, but the concern of the NFLRA representatives seemed real, and the point appears to be a legitimate one, albeit not often considered by the public.

Toward that end, the regular referees recently convened a "safety symposium" with a group of players.

The NFL last used replacement officials in 2001 for one preseason week and one weekend of regular-season games. Some of those games included only 1-5 penalties, the referees' representatives said Wednesday, and the clear inference, without citing any injury figures, was that the games were less safe as a result.

"You would think you'd have some incidents . . . that result from things that are not called," said NFLRA executive director Tim Millis.

Despite remarks by Chicago middle linebacker Brian Urlacher last month, that there might be little difference in the way game are called, even if the NFL resorts to using replacement referees, Green said that he felt players, coaches and fans might find it "unsettling" to have fill-ins.

"Most people," Hochuli said, "have no idea how complicated" the NFL rules and application of those rules tend to be.

Several of the men on the conference call pointed out that, in the past 20 years, there has been only one example of an NFL crew including two rookies. If the league goes to replacement officials for 2012, it will be the equivalent, the referees noted, of having entire crews comprised of rookies.

The Sports Xchange last month reported that the 121 officials under contract to the NFL for the 2011 season averaged 11.4 years of league tenure. The 17 referees averaged 14.9 seasons. Only four game officials from the 2011 crews had fewer than four seasons of experience.

Most of the 100 or so possible replacement officials have been drawn from lower college levels, semi-pro leagues, and possibly a few from other professional leagues. The NFLRA representatives contended that the pool of possible replacements does not even include referees who typically would have been on the NFL's "short list" for elevation to the league.

Said Hochuli: "They're looking at people that they would not (normally) consider bringing into the league."

Chief counsel and lead negotiator Mike Arnold said there has not been a bargaining session with the NFL since a marathon May 30 mediation session, and that none are currently planned. But he and others on the call pointed out that the regular game officials are continuing to prepare for the season with regional training sessions, clinics, videotapes and tests. The preparation, they said, is even more ambitious than they would generally have with league purview.

"Candidly, we'll be ready to take the field the next day (after an agreement)," Hochuli said. But Hochuli also cautioned that, without a preseason to prepare for the campaign, the officials could encounter the same kind of "rust" that players do. "If we miss the preason, we'll make some mistakes (at the outset) of the season," Hochuli said.

Arnold suggested that the lockout was "predetermined," and a part of the NFL's "negotiating strategy." Millis echoed the sentiment, referencing last year's lockout of the players and noting that: "A lockout seems to be their negotiating strategy with everybody."

http://sports.yahoo.com/news/nfl-game-officials-safety-concern-191006134--nfl.html

freddy

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#16 : August 06, 2012, 04:59:56 PM

Sorry Morgan, I don't buy it. Those comments are from the president and executive officer of, wait for it, the locked out referee association. Do you really think they would praise the people who are taking their jobs from them?

LOL, the Saints were running a bounty system right under the noses of these same men now claiming things might get missed. yeah, OK.

Kelly Thomas

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#17 : August 06, 2012, 06:15:40 PM

This isn't the first issue between the league and the refs. And last time the replacement guys didn't hurt the game a damned bit. They seemed to realize they shouldn't be the stars of the show.  Now get the "regular" refs to understand that...

Agreed 100%. I'm still in pain from that over officious display against the Colts last season.

Morgan

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#18 : August 06, 2012, 07:03:41 PM

Sorry Morgan, I don't buy it. Those comments are from the president and executive officer of, wait for it, the locked out referee association. Do you really think they would praise the people who are taking their jobs from them?

LOL, the Saints were running a bounty system right under the noses of these same men now claiming things might get missed. yeah, OK.

Realize that the union rep was one critical of scab refs, but my mistake about the other quote - thought it was a NFLPA union rep (not NFLRA).

Guess we'll see if the scab refs will work out. 

Don't think the bounty system was so much of the ref's problem to uncover as the NFL's problem - doubt if the refs on the field were aware other than a couple of comments were made by players after tackles.

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#19 : August 06, 2012, 08:04:53 PM

LOL, the Saints were running a bounty system right under the noses of these same men now claiming things might get missed. yeah, OK.

It's not the referees job to police any sort of bounty program within an NFL locker room.


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#20 : August 06, 2012, 08:39:41 PM

LOL, the Saints were running a bounty system right under the noses of these same men now claiming things might get missed. yeah, OK.

It's not the referees job to police any sort of bounty program within an NFL locker room.
No, their job is to pick fights with Aqib Talib.


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#21 : August 06, 2012, 08:53:30 PM


 "If we miss the preason, we'll make some mistakes (at the outset) of the season," Hochuli said.


He's joking , right ?


What is your point? I was wrong? Ok. You win. I was wrong.

           

freddy

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#22 : August 06, 2012, 09:09:01 PM

LOL, the Saints were running a bounty system right under the noses of these same men now claiming things might get missed. yeah, OK.

It's not the referees job to police any sort of bounty program within an NFL locker room.
No, their job is to pick fights with Aqib Talib.

Lolz, bazinga

But it is the Refs job to identify and penalize for any sort of illegal or unsportsmanlike hit. Duh.

Morgan

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#23 : August 11, 2012, 06:05:57 PM

Curious what the general consensus was for the scab refs yesterday.

Bucs_Rule

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#24 : August 11, 2012, 06:23:37 PM

The refs were terrible last night. Took too long to get the call on what the flag is for and when they did they announced it all weird. 

Morgan

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#25 : August 11, 2012, 06:36:41 PM

I was hoping that they were so bad that it forced the NFL to settle with the NFLRA.

Morgan

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#26 : August 26, 2012, 02:40:29 PM

Charles Woodson bashes NFL's scab refs

From USA TODAY Sports:

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Add Charles Woodson to a growing chorus expressing concern with the prospect of opening the season with replacement officials.

The Green Bay Packers safety told USA TODAY Sports that during three preseason contests he hasn't been convinced the replacements can handle the speed of the NFL game, and he expects it will be reflected with missed calls during the regular season if the league doesn't settle its labor dispute with locked-out officials.

"They haven't been very good," said Woodson, a 15th-year veteran. "That's the honest opinion. Before preseason started, I think you're optimistic. But it's almost like a young guy coming into the NFL. The game goes too fast for them.

"Now, could they go through a season and get better? Sure. But there's going to be a lot of bad officiating going on until they catch up to the speed of the game."

Asked to project how games will be affected, Woodson said: "There will be some things you normally wouldn't get away with. It's not that you'd be trying to get away with them, but you will because the official didn't see it or he didn't know to make the call. We need the (regular officials) back."

NFL officials insist they have seen improvement with its replacement officials during each week of the preseason, and Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league is preparing to start the regular season without the locked-out crews.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy said, "It's a work in progress."

Nonetheless, the Packers' preseason victory at Cincinnati on Thursday night kicked off another weekend of intense scrutiny of the replacements -- and more apparent gaffes that sparked criticism:

-- Bengals coach Marvin Lewis questioned whether a replacement official knew the rule for protecting a defenseless receiver in flagging safety Taylor Mays for a hit against Packers tight end Tom Crabtree.

-- On Friday night, officials erred in ordering an untimed down the end of the first quarter after Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman was penalized on the final play of the quarter in a game at the New York Giants.

-- Minnesota Vikings Chris Kluwe, following Friday night's preseason game against the San Diego Chargers, tweeted that the NFL should "kiss and make up" with the locked-out officials.

"Frankly," Kluwe tweeted, "it's kind of embarrassing."

In Woodson's view, at least two cases on Thursday night that raised questions. He said officials missed a pass interference call by a Bengals defender against receiver Jordy Nelson. The defender didn't turn his head while making contact, Woodson said.

Woodson also maintained that an official demonstrated a lack of confidence in making a holding call after a lengthy delay.

"I think all of us were about to come off the sideline and throw the flag for him," Woodson said. "You've got to be confident in what you do."

Is Woodson nit-picking with his criticism? He acknowledged the locked-out officials had their share of calls questioned, too.

"Whether you liked their calls or didn't agree with their calls, you always knew that they're good at what they do," he said.

Morgan

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#27 : August 27, 2012, 05:45:34 AM

These scabs will be under more and more scrutiny once the games are nationally televised. I

t's going to get very ugly.

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#28 : August 27, 2012, 06:02:32 AM

I'm hoping the bias refs we have had the last few seasons stay gone.

Bring the others back when they aren't so bias anymore.

Naismith was right about Revis. Everyone else is a dummy.

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#29 : August 27, 2012, 03:33:45 PM

I'm almost looking forward to seeing the 3-ring circus that high school refs will bring to the preseason games and the fans' reaction to their calls. It'll be a sideshow. Hopefully they'll work out a contract by game one of the regular season. Scab umps in the past didn't work for MLB. Don't think scab refs can do a good job in the NFL.

They are not high school refs, give it up dude. They are division II and III refs. Big difference. Personally I don't give sheet who refs the games. There are bad calls made all the time, now it's just a different group of refs making the bad calls.

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