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Goodell makes wrong call on replacements

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By LOUIS LAVENTURE

Sports editor

“Protect the shield.”

It’s a term that football fans have come to know all too well but has taken on a new meaning during the tenure of the National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell.

With the new knowledge of concussions, brain injuries and how they affect former as well as current players, Goodell has made it his primary platform to change game rules and the way the game is played to prevent violent collisions.

The league reviews almost every hit in a game that the league deems violent, illegal or causes injury. Every week players are fined tens of hundreds to hundreds of thousands of dollars for their missteps in an ever-evolving game.

With all of these precautions and new standards being placed of highest importance and implemented, it almost makes no sense the way the commissioner has handled the referee situation.

On Sept. 26, the NFL finally reached an agreement with its locked-out officials just before Week Four of the regular season kicked off Thursday night.

The replacement officials who were used for the pre- season and first three weeks of the regular season were in no way prepared to handle the speed of the game or the technicality of the rules.

It was a calamity of errors for their entire seven-week involvement, culminating on Sept. 24 when the replacement refs blew a possession call on the last play of the Seattle Seahawks-Green Bay Packers game, giving Seattle a victory over the Green Bay.

Simultaneously, two replacement referees called a touchdown and an interception respectively, which is where the madness began.

The home crowd for Seattle is one of the loudest in the league and has even earned itself the moniker

“The 12th Man,” which some people think was a major factor in the call.

The play happened in the end zone just yards from the raucous crowd, which many believe had a direct effect on the officials to favor the home team Seahawks even though one of the two officials clearly called an interception favor- ing the visiting Packers.

Officials should be the ultimate unbiased party, showing no favoritism at all and strictly calling facts blindly. The fact that a crowd could be affecting a call was a scary thought for everybody.

The highest level of officiating experience by any of the replacements was Division 1 college football in some of the country’s mid-level conferences.

Several of the officials only had high school or junior college experience. One of the referees was even employed by the infamous Lingerie Football League.

All this being said, why would Goodell put the safety of the players in the hands of these under qualified refs?

It goes against everything that he stands for, especially considering that the main sticking point that stalled negotiations was a yearly pension plan.

This plan would only cost the NFL, which is worth billions, less than $5 million per year.

Player safety and protecting the NFL shield and brand seem to be primary in this administration; however, the handling of the referee situation seems to go against that.

Several illegal hits, which were not called on the field but subsequently fined by the league offices later in the week, was just one glaring admission of guilt.

Another was the Monday night debacle that left the media and fans begging for the return of the normal officiating crews.

Now the regulation referees are back and it is apparent that they were needed. The game times for Week Four were collectively shorter that the average game time for the first three weeks.

The replays and challenges went faster as well as the calls on the field.

The game flowed without the number of abrupt halts that happened throughout games with the replacements.

Everybody thanks the commissioner for living up to his “Protect the shield” mantra by getting the real officials back in the game.

Football is now America’s game, replacing baseball. With all the revenue created, it deserves the respect and protection to uphold its credibility.

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Goodell makes wrong call on replacements