Calling the Shots: Replacement NFL refs finally replaced: After three weeks of baffling calls, refs and league agree on salary and benefits

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COURTESY OF NEWYORK DAILYNEWS.COM

he replacement referees had a difficult time deciding many calls this season. In the above photo, the left referee rules a touchdown while his partner rules an incomplete pass on the same play.

Dan Miranda, Sports Editor

Referee.

Just the word can spark rage among sports fans, but not always with just cause.  Officials from every sport are taken for granted, but, they are essentials to the game and the reason why it can be played fairly.

In baseball, referees must call balls and strikes at the pace of 80-100 miles per hour within a few seconds.  Basketball, soccer, and hockey are quick, fast-paced events that require the utmost precision.  In football, particularly, the referees have to make quick judgment calls, asking themselves if everything in the play was legal; they also must spot the ball at the correct place and make sure no brawls ensue when it’s not.

Still, you could go to a sporting event at any level and see an athlete or coach verbally abuse the official who made what they believe to be the wrong call.

The point is simple: officials are taken for granted.

In August, it became apparent that referees and the National Football League would not come to an agreement over the officials’ salaries.

Because the league had to put a product on the field, they hired a group of replacement referees.

So where did the NFL find these people?

These referees came from all sorts of football officiating backgrounds.  However, the NFL rule book is a large document, with many intricacies, which have proven difficult for these substitute referees to learn in just a week or two.

Long story short, these replacement referees made many incorrect calls.  The biggest blunder occurred on Monday Night Football in Week 3, when a ruling changed the records of both the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers.  Of fans who saw the play, 76% disagreed with the call, which, according to a Global Strategies study, could have been overturned.

Many players took to Twitter to voice their disagreement with the call.  Greg Jennings, Packers starting wide receiver, was especially upset, posting: “C’MON MAN! Can’t even be upset anymore.  All I can do is laugh.  Laugh at the #NFL for allowing America’s game to come this.  WOW!”

He was not the only one.  New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees called the officials an “embarrassment.” Jennings and Brees were just two among a group of players who all spoke out against the officials in the season.

A little bit harsh, it may seem, for poor officials, but the reality was that the group of replacement referees simply were not getting the job done.

It was not just the athletes who were upset with the level of officiating though.  According to 1,443 fans polled by ESPN, over 76% gave officials subpar marks after three weeks of football.

And so the NFL and the referees finally came to an agreement that gave the officials increased salaries and benefits for the zebras.  In Week 4, the regular referees returned to their positions on the field.

For the rest of the 2012 NFL season, they will be slightly more appreciated, slightly less taunted, but still the same old refs.