For much of the first three weeks of the NFL season, it looked like the replacement officials didn’t know the rules. Many will tell you that football is football at any level. You might think all the calls the fill-in refs blew were a product of them being intimidated by the players and coaches, but replacement official Jerry Hughes would tell you the amount of additional rules at the NFL level presented a challenge.
“There’s a lot more rules in the NFL,” Hughes told CBS News while demonstrating the difference in thickness between the NCAA rule book and the NFL rule book.
Well, that explains a lot. Hughes has been a football official for 40 years at all different levels, and he said working NFL games was a “dream come true.” I’m not sure how the rules about simultaneous possession translate from the lower levels of football to the big stage, but in case you haven’t heard some of the replacement officials had a bit of a problem with that. And for the record, Hughes does not consider the Seahawks’ Hail Mary in Week 3 to be a blown call.
“No. It went to replay,” he said. “They said there was not enough to overturn it. It’s the way the game is played.”
A number of people will disagree, but in a certain sense Hughes is right. That’s the way the game goes, and there were plenty of blown calls that affected the outcome of games before instant replay and replacement officials came along. The spotlight just happened to be brighter through the first three weeks. The massive NFL rulebook clearly didn’t make life easier.
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