By Whitney Becker, Sports Editor
As the referee lockout continues into the third week of the NFL regular season, it can only mean trouble for the league. There is discontent among players, coaches and fans alike, but the NFL remains firm in their decision to go with replacement refs rather than the regular refs.
Denver coach John Fox, who became heated in his game against the Atlanta Falcons last Monday night, was made an example to the rest of the players and coaches in the league via a fine around $20,000. Fines, suspensions, and penalties will be given out despite the seemingly substandard officials.
Clearly, the unhappiness among everyone screams that the veteran referees should come back, but the NFL refuses to budge, knowing they still have the upper hand in the negotiations with the referees.
What is the cause of this firm stance? Well, for one thing, the anger caused by the replacement referees is not great enough to keep fans from watching games on their television or passing up on season tickets.
It seems that the NFL has no plans to stop using the replacement referees anytime soon.
It’s not just the incorrect spotting of the football or difficulties with pass-interference penalties that have teams and fans up in arms. It’s also the blatant bias some referees have for some of the teams.
One such incident revealed that a replacement referee was an avid Saints fan, with pictures on his Facebook page showing his pride for the team. Although he was pulled from officiating the New Orleans-Carolina game hours before, these “oopsie” moments could have had drastic consequences for the outcome of the game.
Players have also realized the large gaffes the replacement officials have been making, which has resulted in more clutching, fighting and grabbing since they know they are more likely to get away with dirty play.
While some argue that the officials are doing the best they can, for many, it’s not enough. Although the replacement officials have been studying the NFL rule book for months now, the games so far have proved that their knowledge is rather shaky.
Negotiations with the union over salary started nearly three months ago, and any agreement between officials and the NFL does not appear to be coming soon.
For now, it seems that game delays due to uncertain calls and potentially dangerous hits by the players will continue unless the regular officials and NFL can find some common ground. For now, fans will continue to watch their beloved game officiated by some disliked referees.