The Tipping Point? Will the League Fix the Zebra Problem?

Posted: September 27, 2012 in Football

Monday night’s game brought to life two significant problems with the replacement refs…the players are at risk with a lack of control on the field and games are now in danger of being decided by bad calls.

The first issue has already occurred on several occasions throughout the first few weeks. The Steelers in week 3 were leading with their helmets on tackles (like they always do) and landing some vicious hits on the Raiders. Even the sandwich smash of Darrius Heyward-Bey, which included a helmet to his facemask, somehow did not warrant a personal foul penalty. This was not the only vicious hit, but the bigger pattern is the loss of control. The refs are allowing the little things at the beginning of games to go uncalled or call meaningless contact as penalties. This is upsetting the players and coaches, and allowing the players to push their boundaries. By the end of some of the games, the coaches are running around furious and the players are shaking their heads at the outcomes.

Until Monday night, the speculation about affecting game outcomes was still only discussion. There were some controversial endings to a few games (including 2 of my Redskins game), but last night included 3 significant blatant problems. On the final drive of the game for Seattle, there was a pass interference call against Sam Shields for incidental contact. The penalty gave Seattle 30 yards. Then with only seconds left, Russell Wilson tosses up a hail mary to the endzone. Golden Tate first pushed Sam Shields to the ground before jumping up to battle with MD Jennings for the ball. Jennings had his hands on the ball first and brought it to his chest before Tate was able to get his hands on it. Both fell to the ground with hands on the ball. The refs ran up and had a little confusion with one throwing his hands up and the other waving them out. When the play first happened, it appeared to be a clear pass interference and an interception. The refs took the video review and ended up leaving the play called as it stood…touchdown.

Not necessarily dictated by the events of Monday night (though possibly slightly reinforced by the chaos at the end of the game), the real refs and the NFL may have finally come to an agreement to bring them back anytime between tomorrow and the start of next week’s games. Here’s hoping…

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