At the midst of two incorrect game changing calls by the replacement officials during last week, the NFL and the officials union reached an agreement to end the lock out. The lock out which began before the season started forced the NFL to use replacement officials for the regular season games.
The replacement officials were met with harsh criticism from fans, sportscasters, players and coaches. Many players felt that the replacement officials were ruining the integrity of the game and that they missed several game changing calls.
Whats more is the integrity of the replacement officials themselves. LeSean McCoy, during a radio interview on 94 WIP with Anthony Gargano and Ike Reese, mentioned that a replacement official told McCoy that he needed to play better to help his fantasy team. Another official was removed from the Saints-Panthers game after his Facebook page showed him as an avid Saint’s fan.
While these are minor incidences, overall the replacement officials have done very well considering they only had 2 months to learn the NFL playbook. Even the regular officials have made these mistakes and have had their share of indiscretions on and off the field.
Looking at the statistics from last season, Kevin Clark reported that there has only been an 11% increase in the number of penalty calls and that the real difference overall is the slow game play due to the replacement officials trying to get the calls right. This was something the NFL accounted for and shifted the start times for Sunday late-games to make up for the difference.
With the light now off of the replacement officials and back to the regular officials, it will be interesting to see how they compare on the field. Only after next week will the critics of the replacement officials be able to truly see the difference between the two groups. Hopeful fans want to get back to enjoying the game and focusing less on whether or not the officials get the call right. I for one am ready for some football and to get back to complaining about the players during my weekly Monday Morning Quarterback sessions with friends.