If you’ve been watching the NFL this season, you may have noticed that the announcers are getting more of the calls right than the replacement officials. Contract talks between the league and the referees union have caused NFL fans to suffer more blown calls than ever before.
The main thing to be noted in recent weeks is the replacement referees’ aversion to calling penalties on dangerous hits — something the NFL is trying to crack down on.
After failing to call defensive holding and defensive pass interference on the Steelers defense this past Sunday, Sept. 23, the officials only stood and watched Raiders receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey take a huge helmet-to-helmet blow from Steelers safety Ryan Mundy, which left him hospitalized. No flag was thrown, though, despite the fact that the hit was replayed upwards of 10 times on the stadium’s big screen.
Two weeks ago, Seahawks receiver Golden Tate laid a helmet-to-helmet blind-side hit on Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee, a defenseless player. The referees missed that one too, though the league did go back and fine Tate.
Missing illegal hits isn’t the only mistake the replacement officials have made. In another Sunday game, Lions linebacker Stephen Tulloch’s helmet-to-helmet hit on Titans tight end Craig Stevens resulted in a 15-yard penalty, but the officials failed to spot the ball correctly.
On Thursday, Sept. 20, the referees spotted the ball on Atlanta’s 32-yard line after a defensive holding penalty was called on a Falcons defender on a fourth-and-one play on Atlanta’s 43-yard line. Instead of placing the ball at the spot of the foul, the officials used college rules and placed it 10 yards from the first down line, which was the 42-yard line.
The replacement referees also appear to be terrible at communicating with coaches, a sine qua non of officiating in the NFL. The situation between the coaches and the officials came to a climax in the final Sunday night matchup this past weekend between the Patriots and the Ravens this past weekend.
In the second half, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh was assessed a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike contact after coming onto field and touching a referee to get his attention, as he wanted to call a timeout and the officials were ignoring him.
Then, at the end of the game, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick grabbed another official after the Ravens’ game-winning field goal appeared to have actually been a miss.
After the penalty call on Harbaugh last week, Baltimore fans unleashed one of the longest “Bullshit” chants ever heard — and who could blame them?
Ondo is a member of the class of 2014.