Tag Archives: overreaction mondays

Overreaction Mondays: The Replacement Refs Era Comes To An End (Hopefully)

“I think it’s getting to a point where it’s pretty horrendous, and it’s an embarrassment.”—Drew Brees

1) 1972 Gold Medal Men’s Basketball game.
2) Armando Galarraga blown perfect game.
3) The Monday Night Football Replacement Ref game.

What do all of these games have in common? They make up the top three biggest travesties in American professional sports. The first cost the United States a Gold medal against the Soviet Union the height of the Cold War, the second was a downer for everyone in baseball, and the third will go down as the moment Roger Goodell was finally caught with his pants down. Between the NFL’s concussion cover-up, Bounty Gate (which is looking more and more like Goodell’s Bounty Hunt), and the Replacement Refs Era, Goodell may be on the worst streak of any American sports commissioner ever.

Going into the season, I honestly didn’t think much of the Replacement Refs. Peyton Manning, the non-Quarterback controversy with the Jets, and Chad Johnson’s wife were the only big training camp story lines, so I chalked up any qualms about the Replacement Refs to a slow news cycle in the NFL. Just good ol’ sensationalizing by the TMZ faction of the sports media. [Editor’s note: Greg warned all of us of this impending doom during Week 1.]

The old refs were pretty bad, so how bad could their picket-fence crossing counterparts be? After all, we spend hours upon hours every weekend lamenting their calls, and claiming that we can do better. This is a job that apparently any fan can do better, right? The Replacement Refs, however, are so bad that it actually somehow puts the old ones on a pedestal. This is the only instance in sports history (to my knowledge) that the regular officials of a sport, who are generally despised and blamed viciously (and often unfairly), are actually being revered, held to a higher standard, and genuinely missed. After the infamous Ed Hochuli call in 2008, I didn’t think that NFL officiating could get any worse, but it did.

It took three weeks, but the Replacement Refs finally blew a game. It’s not like there were a few bad calls that may or may not have actually influenced the outcome of the game. Wins and losses are created throughout the course of the game—it’s usually impossible to seriously chalk it up to one play and say the game was won or lost there. Coaches never ever point to one particular play as the reason why a game was decided. But in Roger Goodell’s NFL, we can finally point to one play.

On the last play of the Packers-Seahawks game on Monday Night Football, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson threw a hail mary into the end zone. A touchdown would win them the game, and anything else would end it in favor of the Packers. Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate shoved Packers cornerback Sam Shields to the ground (no offensive pass interference was called), and Packers safety M.D Jennings caught Wilson’s pass for an interception (he should’ve swatted it down though). Tate fought with Shields for the ball, but it looked more like Jennings caught the ball and Tate caught Jennings. It was a clear incompletion on the field, and even clearer in replays. That was Jennings’ ball.

And then this happened:

One official signaled for an incompletion, and the other signaled for a touchdown. The next time the old refs head to the bargaining table with the NFL, all they have to do is slip Roger Goodell this photo in a manila envelope, and he’ll cave. That one snapshot is the defining moment of the Replacement Ref Era in the NFL—the moment two officials called the game the opposite way, and ultimately got the call wrong, even after reviewing the touchdown. Not only did they look foolish making the call on the field, but they even got the call wrong after having a chance to correct it. This is exactly why they NFL added automatic reviews for every touchdown scored. A safety-net was put in place by the Rules Committee to prevent this, but the Replacement Refs somehow managed to slice that net into pieces. Refs get calls wrong on the field all the time—Replacement or not, they mess up. The missed call on the review was more inexcusable than the call on the field, because they had every chance to fix their error.

But never mind all of the horrible calls on both sides of the fence throughout the course of the game. Russell Wilson’s interception was overturned on a soft roughing the passer call, Greg Jennings got blindsided running his route, Jermichael Finley got mugged all night, and Charles Woodson got away with everything against the Seahawks wide receivers. A total of 24 penalties were called tonight, and every drive seemed to go like this:

Play, play, flag, play, punt.

For 3.99999 quarters, the game was dry, uneven, and frankly boring. Every Packers drive featured Aaron Rodgers getting killed, and every Seahawks drive was a Marshawn Lynch three and out show, all aided by flags thrown left and right. (I hope this game doesn’t overshadow what was a bad performance by the Packers on offense and a worse play-calling job by Mike McCarthy. We’re still waiting for this offense to look like 1/4 of what it was last year.) The “play, play, flag, play, punt” drive formula wasn’t exclusive to this game either—NFL games are 10 minutes longer this year thanks to increased penalty calls and general confusion from the Replacement Refs. Games not only feel slower, but they actually are slower.

Goodell better not even THINK about fining Packers lineman T.J Lang for this.

Tonight was a watershed moment in NFL history. It was the night that the NFL’s Stalin got egged by his Replacements Refs, and finally had his ego popped. The NFL will be better for what happened tonight (the only way to go is up once rock bottom is hit, right?), but for it to come at the cost of my Packers doesn’t make any Packer fan feel any better. The Packers are now martyrs, but their loss will not be in vain.

The Seahawks were celebrating their “12th man” tonight to honor the great home crowd and community they have in Seattle, but who knew that their 12th man was wearing zebra stripes instead of a lime-green Nike jersey? The players now know, and they’re not fucking around anymore. Your move, Roger.

He’s mad.

Follow Justin on Twitter @jblock49

Overreaction Mondays: It’s Only Week 1

Even though I spent 1400+ words lamenting the sport of football, I was pleased to see it back yesterday. I don’t go to church, so NFL Sunday afternoons are the sermons I observe. Being stuck in the NYC market, I have to watch whatever Giants or Jets game is on, meaning I’m stuck with either A) Seeing how many packages Tim Tebow can get involved in while $20 million worth of Mark Sanchez wrestles with a defensive back on the outside, and B) Watching the Giants play horribly until Week 16.

Thankfully, my Packers were on national television against the 49ers, which was by far the toughest matchup for any Week 1 team. The Packers defense got ran off the field physically and mentally, but still made enough stops to make this a game the Packers should’ve won at home. Their defense was good enough for them to finish 15-1 last year because they led the league in interceptions, but against a 49er team that doesn’t turn the ball over on offense, they were never going to win that side of the ball. Unfortunately, 1 yard runs from Cedric Benson (Aaron Rodgers ended the game as the Packer’s leading rusher), and an extremely prepared 49er defense took away the Packer’s big play-action strikes. Rodgers averaged 6.9 yards per completion yesterday, well-below his 8.2 YPC average, and way lower than the 9.25 mark he threw up during his 2011 MVP campaign. I’m chocking this one up to a bad matchup. I’d rather have the Packers play this way Week 1 rather than see them play this same game Week 14.

The Year of the Quarterback continued on too—with every week, it seems like this’ll become the Decade of the Quarterback. 9 quarterbacks threw for over 300 yards, Michael Vick had 56 attempts, Robert Griffin III averaged 12 YPC, and Matthew Stafford is now on pace to throw for 5,500 yards. Looks like the Roger Goodell NFL to me.

Every division except for the NFC West has stellar quarterback play in some regard, but the AFC East may have the most interesting story lines. Even though every sports media outlet is determined to talk Tim Tebow into the Jets starting job, I’m not so sure it’ll happen. If 2011 Mark Sanchez goes out there week-to-week, Tebow will be starting by Week 8, but I think Sanchez is now in “Fuck You” mode this season. Beyond the 3 touchdowns and 70% completion percentage against an expensively assembled Bills defense, Sanchez is definitely playing with a major chip on his shoulder. After the Jets flirted with Peyton Manning, they handed Sanchez a contract extension because his feelings were hurt. Even after that, they still had the nerve to trade for Tim Tebow. Contract extension aside, Sanchez was probably the most disrespected incumbent starter this offseason. Shouldn’t that hurt his pride? Doesn’t he not want to be second-guessed, and not want to be reduced to Tebow’s helmet-boy? Not only as a quarterback, but as a competitor, that should light a fire under his ass. That Bills performance wasn’t just a win to relieve a media-fabricated quarterback controversy, but a genuine personal statement game, even if it didn’t feel like it. Ryan Fitzpatrick and Ryan Tannehill seem eager to anoint Sanchez as the best AFC East quarterback not named Tom Brady, but I think Sanchez will earn that spot, and not gain it by default.

Here’s to Tom Brady’s bloody nose and the subsequent 3-minute segment on SportsCenter (why did Adam Schefter have to come in and play plastic surgeon with Chris McKendry?), and here’s to Sanchez vanquishing his Tebow demons.

Or maybe this is just an overreaction. But hey, it’s only Week 1.

Follow Justin on Twitter @jblock49