Commentary by David Climer, The Tennessean
The NFL is so dominant, so powerful and so lucrative that it has survived PEDs, bounty-gate and Jerry Jones.
But I'm not sure it can survive replacement refs.
With his hard-line negotiating stance, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell
is playing Russian roulette with his league. With well-intentioned but
incompetent officials calling games, it's only a matter of time before a
blown call costs someone a game.
Goodell and the NFL owners need
to back off and find a compromise that will get regular officials back
on the field sooner rather than later.
On opening week, the
greatest defense of the replacement refs is that they didn't screw up
badly enough to determine the outcome of a game. But one crew came
In the Arizona-Seattle game, officials failed to assess a
timeout against the Seahawks when a player was injured inside the
two-minute mark. Lead official Bruce Hermansen announced that a timeout
was not required because the injury occurred on an incomplete pass,
which stopped the clock. He later admitted his ruling was incorrect.
was a telling commentary on the officiating situation. Look, it's hard
enough to make judgment calls when you're out of position and/or you're
not accustomed to dealing with players who are so fast, strong and
skilled. But there is no excuse for failing to know the rules.
many of the games I've seen both in person and on TV, many officials
appear star-struck or intimidated - or both. They simply aren't prepared
to be in the positions the NFL front office has put them.
players adjust to the flow of the game and that includes how the game is
being officiated. They'll push the envelope if they think no penalty
flag is coming. And when players take these kinds of liberties, it's
only a matter of time before injuries start piling up.
34-13 loss to New England on Sunday had its share of officiating
gaffes. For starters, obvious pass interference in the end zone by
Patriots cornerback Devin McCourty on the game's first series went
And the play that ultimately led to a shoulder injury for Titans quarterback Jake Locker should never have come to its conclusion.
receiver Nate Washington dropped the ball after a big hit in the
secondary. But rather than call the pass incomplete, line judge Charles
Derrick trotted in and timidly threw a beanbag to indicate change of
possession. Patriots safety Patrick Chung picked up the ball and took
off, with Locker eventually tackling him 49 yards downfield.
Video review determined the pass was incomplete.
"You would hope that they would make a quicker decision when the ball does come out that fast," Titans coach Mike Munchak said.
in the same drive, referee Jerry Frump tripped all over himself while
trying to figure out what to do about a pass interference call against
New England linebacker Jerod Mayo.
"Penalty declined," Frump initially announced. "The result of the play is a first down."
Then it was explained to Frump that, in fact, the play had not resulted in a first down.
Retracing his officiating footsteps, Frump announced: "The result of the play was not a first down. Penalty accepted."
let's be clear on one thing: Even if the replacement refs had sided
with the Titans on every close call, the Patriots still would have won the game. It was a mismatch.
But that's not the point.
There's simply too much at stake to leave these split-second decisions to officials that are out of their league.