The NFL has a real problem on its hands

In less than a week, the Giants and Cowboys will kick-off the 2012-2013 NFL season.  It’s going to be a great night where the Giants will get to celebrate last year’s Super Bowl victory and begin their quest for another.

With so much to look forward about Wednesday night’s kick-off, it is clouded by one huge problem.  The league announced yesterday that the season will begin with replacement officials and the longer this dispute with the real officials goes on, the bigger this problem becomes.

Anyone who has watched a preseason game has seen the struggles of the replacements and unfortunately there have been more screw-ups than correct calls.  I feel bad for replacement officials.  They’re doing the best they can and there are under a microscope. Any mistake is exacerbated by the fact that they are replacements and not the normal referees.

Unfortunately, there has been a lot of mistakes and when the games start counting, there’s simply no room for these errors.  Aside from the obvious fact that the replacements are less familiar with the rules and will make more mistakes than the regular refs, the pace of play is drastically different.

During one sequence in the Giants/Pats preseason finale on Wednesday, the game came to a screeching halt while the replacement officials were straightening out a Giants punt that was called back on a penalty.  Coaches, players and fans all became restless during the delay and while I admire the officials for wanting to get the call correct, the pace of the game is equally as important.  The NFL must not let the games become a mockery where the refs lose control of the game and players and coaches don’t respect the officials.

The integrity of the most popular and profitable sport in the country is being compromised.  Over 100 million people watch the Super Bowl.  With that much on the line, how is the league okay with letting replacement officials work in regular season games?

Every game in the NFL matters.  A game in September is just as important as a game in January.  10-6 and 9-7 is the difference between making the playoffs and not making the playoffs.  The league owes it to itself and its fans to employ the best referees possible, even if that means giving them more than they originally allocated.

I don’t think money can be described as a major issue for the NFL.  Don’t forget, we are talking about a league that has networks paying up to $3 billion dollars a year to broadcast games.

During last year’s lockout, I just always assumed that the issue would be resolved before real games got under way.  The NFL is too profitable and too popular to not have it’s season played out as perfectly as possible.  Even as it got close and ran into the start of training camps, I always knew the lockout would get resolved before any real games were missed.

I used to feel the same way about this officials dispute, but now it looks as if we are going to open the season with the replacements.  I just hope they don’t cost a team a win that alters the rest of the season.

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