Craig: Goodell can't shield players from replacement officials mess

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 29, 2012 - 9:14 AM

A survey indicated that a vast majority of NFL players believe the game will be harmed if replacement officials work the regular season.

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Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer argued with the replacement officials during the first half of a preseason game against Arizona last weekend, and he hasn’t been alone.

Photo: Rick Scuteri, ASSOCIATED PRESS

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Phil Loadholt was given three options to choose from regarding the impact on the NFL if there is no labor resolution and the league goes forward with its plans to use replacement officials in its regular-season games next week.

A, "The game will suffer greatly."

B, "Marginal difference."

C, "The game will be just fine."

Like most people who have witnessed the preseason and aren't named Roger Goodell, Loadholt thought for about .004 seconds before rendering his verdict.

"The game will suffer greatly," the Vikings right tackle said.

Loadholt was one of five Vikings I surveyed as part of a Sporting News poll of 146 players from 29 teams. Cornerback Chris Carr, who said "marginal difference," was another. The other three agreed with Loadholt by choosing "the game will suffer greatly," but chose to keep their answers anonymous.

"Personally," Loadholt said, "I just don't know if the guys who we have officiating now know what they're doing. They don't seem real qualified to me."

Loadholt's tone wasn't mean-spirited. It was more matter-of-fact. Sort of like saying, "I don't think those mall cops could have found Bin Laden."

Of those 146 players, 90.4 percent (132) said the games would be affected negatively. Only 14 said the game would be just fine.

As expected, Week 3 of the preseason served as the wake-up head slap to the realization that the NFL might actually go through with this ill-suited plan. All the blown judgment calls, the misapplications of the rules and the general confusion that were dismissed earlier in the preseason are now standing within a week of the Sept. 5 season opener.

Naturally, more players and coaches are starting to go public with their concerns and disgust.

After a particularly embarrassing performance by the replacement officials in Friday night's game at Mall of America Field, Vikings punter Chris Kluwe tweeted: "The NFL really needs to kiss and make up with the refs. These replacements are horrible. Frankly, it's kind of embarrassing."

A day earlier, Bears kicker Robbie Gould was watching the Titans and Cardinals on television when he tweeted that the officials were "clueless." After the game, Titans defensive coordinator Jerry Gray referred to the crew as "the Three Stooges."

The replacement officials are doing their best, but were recruited from officiating jobs at small colleges, junior colleges, high schools and low-level professional leagues. Goodell, the NFL commissioner, argues that they have been trained to officiate in the NFL, but that training included all of two months.

"We think they'll do a very credible job," Goodell said.

That statement is being laughed at throughout the league. And it should be. The officiating has been embarrassing, particularly for a multibillion-dollar outfit that is always bragging about the image of its precious "shield."

So far, the players who have spoken out haven't been fined.

"It was more recommended that we don't talk about it," Kluwe said. "It wasn't, 'Hey, don't talk about this or we'll fine you.' But it's one of those things where all you have to do is just look out there. It's like the difference between having a high school guy playing in the NFL vs. an NFL guy playing in the NFL. These guys are trying as hard as they can. But they're not used to the speed of the game, so they're missing a lot of stuff."

What we're all discovering is the regular officials were a lot better than we thought. Their judgment calls, while not perfect, are at least respectable. Their knowledge of the NFL's litany of rules also is infinitely better, obviously.

Also, some, including Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, have complained that the replacement officials don't fully understand some of the player-safety rules that have been put in place. That should be of particular concern for a league that wants everyone to believe it has made player safety one of its highest priorities.

Obviously, there's still time to get this all worked out. Goodell has said the regular officials would need seven to 10 days to get ready for the season, but it's a good bet the officials have been staying sharp enough to step in if there's the usual 11th-hour agreement next week.

"I don't think the league can afford to have mistakes like this [in the regular season]," Kluwe said. "Look at last year. The Giants, the eventual Super Bowl champs, they were one game from not making the playoffs. So if you get one bad call, the entire season is different."

In other words, Mr. Goodell, for the good of the so-called "shield," fix this mess now.

Mark Craig • mcraig@startribune.com

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Buffalo 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Jacksonville 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 3:25 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA
Toronto 110 FINAL
LA Clippers 98
Boston 88 FINAL
Washington 101
Orlando 102 FINAL
Charlotte 94
Memphis 103 FINAL
Miami 95
Indiana 110 FINAL
Brooklyn 85
New Orleans 100 FINAL
Chicago 107
Atlanta 90 FINAL
Milwaukee 85
Philadelphia 71 FINAL
Utah 88
New York 129 FINAL
Sacramento 135
Minnesota 97 FINAL
Golden State 110
NY Islanders 3 FINAL(SO)
Buffalo 4
Detroit 3 FINAL(OT)
Ottawa 2
Carolina 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay 2
New Jersey 1 FINAL
NY Rangers 3
Boston 2 FINAL
Columbus 6
Winnipeg 4 FINAL(OT)
Minnesota 3
Washington 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 0
Dallas 4 FINAL
St. Louis 3
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Nashville 4
Anaheim 1 FINAL(SO)
Arizona 2
Chicago 5 FINAL
Colorado 2
Edmonton 1 FINAL
Calgary 4
San Jose 1 FINAL
Los Angeles 3
Indiana 87 FINAL
Georgetown 91
Maine 43 FINAL
Seton Hall 72
UNC-Wilmington 82 FINAL
Minnesota 108
Georgia State 61 FINAL
Green Bay 78
Jacksonville St 61 FINAL
Jacksonville 75
Kentucky 58 FINAL
Louisville 50
Northern Ky 55 FINAL
Northwestern 76
UAB 58 FINAL
North Carolina 89
IUPUI 55 FINAL
Pepperdine 53
Santa Clara 60 FINAL
St Marys-CA 73
Oakland 56 FINAL
Maryland 72
Gonzaga 87 FINAL
BYU 80
Mercer 77 FINAL
Georgia 86
San Francisco 77 FINAL
Pacific 71
Wright State 55 FINAL
Ohio State 100
Presbyterian 65 FINAL
Virginia Tech 87
Brescia 42 FINAL
Western Ky 89
Tennessee St 46 FINAL
Tennessee 67
Kennesaw St 45 FINAL
Illinois 93
Colorado State 58 FINAL
New Mexico St 57
Portland 61 FINAL
San Diego 58
Wayland Baptist 63 FINAL
Utah State 75
Bristol University 59 FINAL
Weber State 109
Sacramento St 74 FINAL
Utah Valley U 49
Southern Utah 45 FINAL
UNLV 79
SD Christian 50 FINAL
San Diego St 72
Illinois 18 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 35
Rutgers 40 FINAL
North Carolina 21
NC State 34 FINAL
UCF 27
Cincinnati 17 FINAL
Virginia Tech 33
(15) Arizona State 36 FINAL
Duke 31
Miami-Florida 21 FINAL
So Carolina 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Penn State 31
(25) Nebraska 42 FINAL
(24) USC 45
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
Minnesota
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Houston 1/2/15 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Iowa 1/2/15 2:20 PM
Tennessee
(11) Kansas State 1/2/15 5:45 PM
(14) UCLA
Washington 1/2/15 9:15 PM
Oklahoma State
East Carolina 1/3/15 11:00 AM
Florida
SMU 45 FINAL
(2) Connecticut 96
UCF 64 FINAL
Houston 50
BYU 62 FINAL
Gonzaga 78
Pacific 92 FINAL
San Francisco 54
St Marys-CA 62 FINAL
Santa Clara 61
San Diego 87 FINAL
Portland 65
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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