I'm not going to sit here and jam more Golden Tate/MD Jennings touchdown/interception opinions in your face. If you haven't seen the replay a hundred times and heard everyone and their great grandmother's opinion on it, I think you might literally live under a rock. We all know, despite the league standing by the referees' decision, that was an interception. If you want to debate that, take it somewhere else.
That was just one of many terrible displays of officiating that the refs showed this past weekend. I'm on the record saying that I barely noticed the fact that the real refs weren't out there in Week 1. After Week 2, I said I noticed them making some bad calls and incorrectly assessing penalties, but I didn't think it was a huge deal. After Week 3, it is now becoming a huge deal.
Through the first two weeks of the season, the refs were letting defensive backs and receivers get very physical down the field - it was almost like they made the old hand-checking technique legal again. My best guess is that the NFL talked to the refs about this, and told them that they can't let players bump each other beyond five yards from the line of scrimmage, and to be sure they keep an eye on it. The result of that has been extraordinarily inconsistent calls. The first two weeks, receivers were getting mugged on every play - at least that was fair for both teams. Now there are plays where receivers get knocked out ten yards down the field and there's no call, then the ref will throw his flag for the lightest of contact on the very next play.
Jon Gruden said it best last night: "Pass interference should call itself." Especially with these inexperienced refs, if they have any uncertainty about a pass interference call, they just need to keep the flag in their pocket. Instead, we see plays like a perfectly timed pass breakup from Kam Chancellor - that should have ended Green Bay's potentially game winning drive - get penalized. It's one thing when the refs miss the same calls consistently, but when one play is called like UFC and the next is called like LeBron driving down the lane, it just screws up the whole game.
Next, we have the replacement refs' inept ability to notice illegal hits. I'm not blaming them, as the speed of the game is so unbelievably fast relative to what they're used to, but compared to the regular refs, that's what it is - inept ability. With all the missed late hits and helmet first lunges at receivers, something terrible was bound to happen eventually.
Lo and behold, Darrius Heyward-Bey of the Oakland Raiders was knocked unconscious and hospitalized by a helmet first Ryan Mundy hit that landed right in DHB's chin. The illegal hit was not penalized by the referees. Fortunately, Heyward-Bey is expected to make a full recovery, but is it going to take an on-field death to get the NFL to meet the referee's demands? This is just getting ridiculous.
Bart Hubbich of the New York Post reported that bringing the real referees back would cost about $100,000 per NFL team. In the NFL, we're talking about a multi-billion dollar industry. Is that $100K per team really this important to them? ESPN sports business reporter Darren Rovell said back in March that the Cowboys are worth about five billion dollars. Do you know how small of a percentage it would cost Jerry Jones to put in his share to get the real refs back? Neither do I, because it comes out to 2x10 to the negative fifth power. I haven't taken a math class in years so I have no idea what that means, but I know it's very small.
Commissioner Roger Goodell's salary costs each team about $340,000. I'd say you're getting much more bang for your buck paying $100K for refs rather than $340K for Goodell.
I don't know what it will take to get this thing settled. Maybe an on-field stabbing followed by a flag for an illegal shift. All I know is that it's getting ridiculous, and each week it has gotten worse. I understand that there are always bad calls and that we often complain about the real refs when they're out there, but don't act like what went on this weekend is even remotely similar to our typical referee controversy. This has to be straightened out.