I previously wrote about the economic situation that separates the NFL referees from signing a new deal. It is now being reported that not only is there an economic gap preventing a new deal, other factors also are holding the NFL and the NFL Referees Association apart. The other factors holding the sides apart revolve around amount of work. Currently most of the referees use the NFL as a part time job. The NFL wants their referees to be full time employees. It is difficult to blame the NFL referees for wanting another job because they only work one day a week, and the pay is not great. Another point of contention is the NFL wanting to add three more officiating crews. The NFL wants to give the officials more rest and help to bring young referees into the game that may be there for a while. On this issue, I understand the NFL's point of view. Officials are aging and it is important to bring in new referees to keep the game consistent.
The replacement referees to this point (its only been a week) have caused much anger and worry for NFL players. Victor Cruz spoke out against the replacement referees after the Giants preseason game versus Jacksonville. Cruz said that the officials were flustered and he pointed to a situation with teammate, Jayron Hosley. Hosley was a punt returner and was called for holding. Anyone who watched the NFL realizes that it does not make sense that a punt returner could be called for holding. Cruz said, "That was probably the most mind-boggling one to me." He went on to say he is, "A little concerned because we want to make sure we're getting the best referees we can. I actually overheard one of the refs saying he only refereed glorified high school games, which I don't even know what that means."
Not only are players concerned because the referees have been frankly bad, but they are also concerned for their safety. The Chicago Bear player representative, Adam Podlesh spoke on the replacement referee situation. He said, "It's definitely a bit of a concern, I feel, for the players, especially since everybody says the preseason is at one speed and once you get up to regular season the speed picks up and it goes to the next level." If the NFL referees can't keep up with the speed of the game, injuries are more likely to happen. The NFL has taken huge steps in the last few years to ensure player saftey. Most of the rule changes involve being able to quickly pick up on head contact. If referees can't see these plays, I worry that NFL players safety may in fact be in jeopardy.
This situation is outrageous. The NFL needs to take care of the officiating situation now. NFL regular season games will be compromised based on terrible officiating. Hopefully the NFL and the NFL Referees Association agree to something soon. When an agreement does happen, Victor Cruz and many others will be happy. Cruz said, "That will probably be the first time I'll be happy to see a ref I saw from last year. I'm going to shake his hand and say, 'Thank you for coming back.'"