Replacement Referees in the NFL

Mahin Chowdhury, Sports Editor

With the replacement referees gone and the old ones back from strike, the National Football League and their fans look to see the game go back to normal.

In the beginning of the 2012 NFL season, the league officials or referees went on strike arguing for, among other things, a larger salary. The strike went on for the first three weeks of the regular season. The refs that replaced the striking pros were not as experienced and struggled for that reason. Luckily for the league, after seeing how enraged everyone was acting over bad calls on the field, Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner, decided to make a deal with the officials on strike and they were back for the fourth week.

Arriving to the games, the fans were more than happy to see the old refs. In Cleveland, seven officials led by Gene Steratore, were cheered for from the moment they walked on the field. They ran a smooth an efficient game on Thursday, September 27, and the lockout came to an end with the Baltimore Ravens’ 23-16 win over the Browns. Joseph White of ABC News Sports reported that Steratore commented: “To just be applauded by 50,000 people prior to anything happening, it was something that kind of chokes you up. It was a very special feeling.”

Although the referees might not seem like a big part of the game, during the strike, the fans and the players realized how important they really are. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers’ quarterback, hoped to never see this effect the NFL again after a questionable call in week three that cost his team the game. “The game is being tarnished by an NFL that obviously cares more about saving some money than having the integrity of the game diminished a little bit,” Rodgers said after his game on September 24, reported Jimmy Traina of Sports Illustrated. “They gambled on some low-level referees, including the guy who makes the most important call last night, who has never had any professional experience.”

With the referees are back, the NFL is in what the crtics call the “honeymoon.” Only time can tell how long it will last; let’s just hope it does.