“A dirty player being let to play dirty … Ricky Incognito,” Smith said, likely getting his first name wrong on purpose, according to the Houston Chronicle’s Nick Mathews. “Everything that’s illegal that can be done on the football field he does it, but mainly he was hitting people after the play, sliding down on your leg grabbing your ankle and trying to twist to break your ankle and he was doing it right in front of the referees and he was still in the game.”
Smith was upset the referees didn’t address the dirty play.
“It’s the referees’ job to stop him from doing it because everything that I would do to stop him I would get a penalty for,” he said.
Well, Antonio, they are replacement refs. You expect them to do their homework and know to look out for Ricky err Richie’s shenanigans? Maybe the refs will be on him next week. Smith meanwhile was actually credited with half a sack in the win.
On Wednesday night, a brand new NFL season will be uncorked when the opening kickoff of the Giants and Cowboys takes place. That is, if you don’t count the fact that the NFL apparently never ends, with inexorable coverage delving into the minutiae that is the offseason and a pregame analysis of the opening kickoff that begins shortly after the Super Bowl ends.
The fans will return, sporting team colors on their accessories and various appendages (no questions asked). The pageantry will once again be on display, and the players will come bursting out of the tunnels with the fervor of a “Price is Right” contestant on a Plinko-rush.
However, you will apparently not be seeing Ed Hochuli anytime soon. The NFL referees’ answer to Lou Ferrigno and his compatriots will not be on the field in the near future. Since early June, the NFL has locked out its referees, unable to come to an agreement on such issues as salary, retirement benefits, and other issues not exciting enough to merit mention in this humble prose. Suffice it to say that these men of the striped cloth are adamant about the same issues that sportswriters are, though the latter usually cave with a compromise of a gift card from Long John Silver’s.
The first time you see a flag tonight, it won’t be the mellifluent Mike Carey, the authoritative Tony Corrente, or the once-bulldozed, twice shy Jeff Triplette, but rather one of many previously anonymous referees (saying a lot) that will be working pro football games for the time being.
The topic of referees is never an easy subject on which to discourse. Even in the best of times, one team and their devoted following are none-too-pleased at the call being made. The others are spent absorbing blows from the players themselves as in the case of Triplette, who discovered what (Orlando) Brown could do TO you. An Internet search yields the definition of referee as a blind person who makes calls in a game.
The NFL season is set to officially begin on Wednesday night, and the replacement officials are coming with it. If you watched any part of the 64 preseason games across the NFL over the past month you have more than likely heard some sort of discussion about replacement referees. There have been some compliments, even more complaints and a lot of nervousness about people like Wayne Bernier, who is making the transition from working six-man high school football games to the NFL.
“You have seen it on TV and see this big field,” Bernier told the Amarillo Globe-News. “But you walk in and it’s still a 100-yard field just like out at Dick Bivins Stadium (where Amarillo high school teams play). There are more people. That’s all.”
There are also higher stakes and a lot more pressure. Giving a high school coach a headache isn’t quite the same as giving Jim Harbaugh a headache. All officials make bad calls, but the backlash will be even more severe when the replacement refs make mistakes because of the preexisting notions many players, coaches and fans already have about them. Despite that, Bernier says he has felt very welcome.
“You learn they all are human beings,” he explained. “They are in this spotlight all the time, but they are just human. And they are class acts, like Andy Reid. We all know he just lost his son, and there is emotion there. And then most of the players have been cordial. You hear every once in a while a ‘Oh, that’s why you are here’ comment. But most of them slap you on the butt and say, ‘Good job.’”
At the end of the day, the officials can only call it like they see it and do the best they can. Those butt slaps and “good jobs” may be tougher to come by in the regular season, but that’s the nature of the beast in professional athletics. For people like Bernier, looking at it like just another game of six-on-six probably isn’t a bad idea.
The NFL’s replacement referees have been a disaster as a whole, and their collective performance during the preseason can be summarized by the above video.
Referee Don King attempted to announce penalties during the second quarter of the Giants-Patriots preseason game, but he struggled mightily. The Giants were punting to the Pats, and there apparently were some infractions on the play.
Good luck interpreting this convoluted explanation:
“We have fouls by both teams during the kick,” said King. “We have illegal shift by the kicking team. After the kick (pause) … we have a 15-yard penalty (motions to Patriots). Chosen to re-kick (points to Giants) … five-yard penalty.”
After a minute to rethink things, King realized how ridiculous he sounded, so he decided to interrupt play as the Giants were getting set to punt because he wanted to try his explanation a second time.
“Correction on the reporting of the foul. Both teams were … both uh … both fouls were on the kicking team. Five-yard penalty.”
And this guy may be officiating regular-season NFL games? Only in America.
As expected, the NFL’s replacement officials have been a popular topic of discussion throughout the preseason. Just as replacement players who are filling in for holdouts do, the guys in the stripes have experienced some rough moments over the past couple of weeks. A few of those moments came during the Niners-Texans game on Saturday night.
There were several calls during the game that infuriated San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh, including the officials’ decision to let the time run out at the end of the first half despite a defensive penalty being called against Houston that the Niners accepted. After the game, Harbaugh did something the NFL has ordered teams to not do — he blasted the replacement officiating crew.
“Big interference call in third quarter was some big yardage on that drive,” Harbaugh said according to CSNBayArea.com. “I don’t know. It’s interesting. I don’t have the pulse on this game. What was it exactly? Us? Them? Some crazy, wild calls. Were they accurate? Weren’t they? We’ll see. I have a headache (from yelling), though. I have a darned headache. A lot them didn’t seem like they were in the ballpark.”
Harbaugh ripped the officials after previously stating that he would not be commenting on that officiating “per instructions” from the league. Obviously he was angry enough about it that he simply couldn’t resist.
With the NFL and NFL Referees Association reportedly not making any progress toward a new deal, you can expect this situation to get even uglier as the regular season draws nearer. If coaches and players are already upset over the officiating when the games don’t matter, just imagine the reaction we’re going to see come Week 1.
Thursday was the first day of the preseason for many NFL teams, and it also marked the preseason debut for many of the league’s replacement referees. One official had a particularly rough start.
Referee Craig Ochoa, who as Gunaxin Sports points out was actually calling his second preseason game (he also did the Hall of Fame Game), had his mind stuck on last weekend when he accidentally called Atlanta “Arizona.”
“Arizona will be not charged a timeout. It will be 4th down and 8 from the 43,” he said during the first quarter of the Falcons-Ravens preseason game.
It wasn’t quite one of those “Wanna get away?” moments, but it was embarrassing enough. As long as he doesn’t mess up the actual calls, we’ll let this slide.