Joe Knows

Either the regular NFL officials never made a mistake or we have awful memories. I think I’m going to lean with the latter.

The disgruntled officials haven’t been the only ones who have had to endure since the league locked them out in late summer over pension freezes.

The lowly fans, who have had to put up with relentless pestering from broadcasters and commentators every game, are suffering almost as much — particularly this one.

Take Monday night’s game as an example.

Cris Carter called the Broncos-Falcons game “unwatchable.” After losing to the Eagles, Ravens Joe Flacco said the replacement refs are “affecting the integrity of the game.” And LeSean McCoy even accused a zebra of wanting him for his fantasy team.

Take it as a compliment, LeSean.

While undeniably incompetent, the replacement officials aren’t actually a marked step down from the league’s regulars. Errant flags and missed calls — often after replay — were still par for the course before the scabs.

Lest we forget it was a regular, Bill Leavy, who botched several important calls in the Steelers’ win in Super Bowl XL, before admitting he was wrong four years later. Did I imagine the Saints’ repeated illegal hits on Brett Favre in the 2009 NFC championship game that were ignored by Pete Morelli on the field only to be deemed illicit by the league the next day, and by the way, triggered the investigation of the league’s largest cheating scandal?

Coming into an unenviable position was part of the deal for the replacements, most of whom have little to no experience in the NFL and were officiating only at Division II and III levels when they received the call.

This may help explain their blank stares on almost every whistle. Between granting extra timeouts, spotting the ball incorrectly and penalizing players for spiking the ball, the replacements haven’t endured themselves to us like the identically named group of castoffs led by Keanu Reeves.

But the vast difference in speed may be responsible for all of this.

These guys are a different animal from the athletes these replacements are used to. These guys are able to make the kessel run in less than 12 parsecs.

Commentators aren’t the only ones laying it on thick.

The NFL even issued a warning to coaches this week not to bully them. The one coach who prompted the memo was not so surprisingly San Francisco’s Jim Harbaugh.

This doesn’t apply for Brian Stropolo, who was scheduled to work the Sunday’s Saints-Panthers game as a side judge before being outed as a Saints fan. And it especially isn’t applicable for field judge Jeff Sardous, who was part of the crew to work the Seattle-Arizona game in Week 1 despite being a paid official at Seahawks practices for the past three years.

Perhaps they should be replaced.

 

JOE CUNEO

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