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John Lynch: NFL told broadcasters deal was imminent, go easy on replacements

Heading into the first week of the NFL regular season, the replacement officials were a huge story. After one of the biggest blown calls in NFL history on Monday night, they have become national news. While the league has done everything in its power to stop players and coaches from berating the fill-in refs, analysts and broadcasters are no longer holding back. Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth led the way by ripping the calls in the Sunday night game, and Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden followed suit on Monday. Now we’re learning from former safety and current FOX NFL analyst John Lynch that the league wanted broadcasters to go easy on the replacement refs in Week 1.

“I know Week 1 the league I think kind of duped every network in calling us and said ‘we’re close to a deal, so have your guys go easy.’ So that was kind of the edict from up top: go easy on these guys,” Lynch said during an appearance on “The Dan Patrick Show.”

“[The league wasn't] telling us not to say anything, but be careful because a deal was close. And then they duped us like everybody else. So the next week it was take the gloves off, say whatever you want — and we have.”

Sounds like the NFL was trying to control the message initially, but once the replacement refs became as big of a disaster as they did, and things hit a DEFCON 1 stage, the NFL really couldn’t say much. Even ESPN broadcasters were ripping the refs, and they hardly ever say anything off-script.

The good news is that enough fans and media members spoke out about the disaster, forcing what could be a settlement between the sides. That’s why it’s important not to be silenced and to speak out when things are wrong.

Green Bay eye doctor offers free laser eye surgery to replacement refs

Nothing says “you suck” quite like accusing an official of not being able to see and offering to fix his or her vision problems for free. In the wake of the mind-boggling call that cost the Packers a win over the Seahawks on Monday night, an eye care provider in Green Bay has offered to do just that for the officials who worked the game.

According to FOX 19 in Wisconsin, Dr. Christopher Smith has offered free Lasik surgery to the the most infamous replacement refs in replacement ref history.

“Yeah. The referees obviously had some vision issues,” Smith said. “So we decided that we could help them with that.”

But here’s the catch. Smith added that if they take him up on the offer, he and his staff will also speak to the officials about decision-making and go over the rules of the game of football. One one hand, if I had vision problems and wanted to save a few thousand bucks I might actually swallow my pride and cash in on the offer — especially since it appears that the regular officials could be returning very shortly. Then again, this guy might be a psycho who is furious over what happened. Do I want to trust someone like that with my vision?

Nonetheless, it’s a pretty funny PR move from Dr. Smith that we saw from an eye care facility once before in SEC country. To our knowledge, no official ever took them up on the offer.

H/T SI Hot Clicks

Regular NFL officials could reportedly be back on the field this Sunday

After the embarrassment that took place on Monday night in Seattle, it sounds like the NFL may have been motivated to soften its stance a bit and make a legitimate effort to end the referee lockout. According to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, the NFL and NFL Referees Association are believed to have made enough progress in their talks on Tuesday night that the regular officiating crews could return to action this weekend.

A source familiar with the talks told Mortensen that both sides have agreed to a deal in principle. It was initially believed that the regular officials would need at least a week to get up to speed with any rule changes or additions for the 2012 season, but the NFLRA says its referees have already been trained and are prepared. Pension plans are reportedly one of the final hurdles that need to be cleared, but the source said the debate was only over “a little bit more money.”

An ugly situation reached its boiling point on Monday night, so it’s no surprise the league and owners could be willing to compromise. Whether ratings remain high or not, the product on the field has taken a serious tumble. Between players bashing the league on Twitter and political figures proposing legislation to ban replacement officials altogether, the NFL has officially lost control of the situation. Typically when one side loses control, a labor disagreement comes to an end.

Lance Easley hits club in Fresno night after blowing call in MNF game (First Photo)

Lance Easley joined the ranks of the most infamous officials in sports when he signaled touchdown on a Hail Mary pass by the Seahawks to end “Monday Night Football,” leading to one of the biggest officiating debacles in NFL history. And how did Easley respond to becoming one of the most notorious — and in many cases despised — referees of all time? By hitting up a club the very next night?

George Takata, the sports director at KPGE CBS 47 in Fresno, reported on Twitter early Wednesday morning that Easley was out at Club Habanos — a bar/club in Fresno, Calif., on Tuesday night. Takata even tweeted the tri-pane photo you see above. He says the middle photo was sent to him by one of his friends, and it is of Easley at the club Tuesday night.

In an incredible irony, Takata’s friend, whose face we blurred out, happened to be wearing a Green Bay Packers shirt — the very team Easley’s awful call victimized.

USA Today reported on Tuesday that Easley is a longtime Southern California high school and junior college official. They say Easley attended the Stars and Stripes Academy for Football Officials in Salt Lake City, Utah, over the summer, and that the staff determined he wasn’t ready to officiate Division I college football games. Easley reportedly has never refereed college football games higher than the Division III level.

If you were concerned that Easley might go into hiding after his notorious moment, it looks like you were wrong. Apparently the man is embracing his newfound fame.

Hail Mary Fallout
Seahawks given win over Packers on controversial Hail Mary
Golden Tate defends himself, says he made the catch
Packers players cuss out replacement refs, NFL on Twitter after game
Lingerie League fires refs who were acting as NFL scabs
Packers OL: Pete Carroll, Golden Tate are full of crap

Photo via George Takata
H/T Marcas Grant

Green Bay TV station uses replacement weather guy (Video)

Folks in Green Bay are rightfully outraged at the NFL over the finish of “Monday Night Football,” but one TV station has gotten creative in expressing its displeasure.

NBC 26 in Green Bay had a “replacement weather guy” give the weather report on Tuesday morning to mock the NFL’s use of replacement officials. Naturally, the replacement weather guy gave a vague and incompetent report, just like you would expect.

Anyone can gripe over Twitter or call Commissioner Goodell’s office, but it takes some thought to do this. Well done, NBC 26.

Helmet knock to Hot Clicks

N.J. State Senate President Steve Sweeney proposes legislation to ban replacement officials from professional sports

The replacement official situation in the NFL may have reached its boiling point on Monday night with one of the worst endings in league history, and like many others New Jersey State Senate President Steve Sweeney believes it’s time for someone to take action. However, Sweeney is looking to take matters a step further than bringing back the regular NFL officials. He wants replacement officials permanently banned from professional sports.

According to CBS New York, the N.J. Senate Democratic Caucus announced on Tuesday that has introduced legislation that would ban fill-in officials for good.

“This past weekend in the NFL has not only made a mockery of a great sport, but shined a very bright light on how important fully trained and professional officiating is to player safety,” Sweeney said in an issued statement. “We wouldn’t allow a factory or construction site to operate without fully trained supervisors on hand to ensure the safety of employees. Why should we do anything differently when the job site is a playing field?”

In addition to questions about the integrity of the game and hilarious comments about the league crapping on people’s paintings, safety has been a major concern since the replacement refs have been in charge of games.

Realistically, it is the NFL that needs to end the referee lockout and bring back its regular officials. Battling sports issues in the court room rarely gets anything accomplished, but any extra kick in the you-know-what for the NFL is more than welcome at this point.

H/T Around the League

Golden Tate on game-winning Hail Mary catch: ‘I know I had the ball’

Even the professionals get lucky sometimes. With replacement officials on the field, it’s more likely than ever to happen. The Seahawks got lucky on Monday night. Anyone who saw the pass interference call against the Packers on the final drive of the game and the instantly infamous Hail Mary catch by Golden Tate can tell you that. Of course, Tate is among the very small minority who believe the Seahawks won fair and square.

After shoving a Packers defender down while the ball was in the air, Tate tried to go up and make the catch. Instead, Packers defensive back M.D. Jennings intercepted the pass and clearly gained possession on his way to the ground. The officials apparently thought Tate had simultaneous possession, which by rule goes to the offense. That’s the way Tate saw it as well.

“Yes, I did,” he said on SiriusXM NFL Radio after the game, according to Pro Football Talk. “I know I had the ball in my hands the entire — from the moment that it was catchable. I had my hands on the ball, just fought for it and tried to come down with it.

“I didn’t know what they called, I just know that I had the ball in my hands and at the bottom of the pile I was just fighting to maintain that.”

Since one official made the signal for touchdown while the other waived his arms above his head to indicate an interception, no one knew what the call on the field was. The only thing viewers at home knew for certain was that Jennings had intercepted the pass. The Packers players were irate after the game and many of them took to Twitter to rip the NFL and the officials, and who can blame them? With the exception of Pete Carroll and Tate, just about everyone thinks the referee lockout has to end.