At least that's what Jon Gruden called them. 6th string referees. Yes, the NFL referees are on strike. They want some of the money the NFL makes, and then NFL doesn't want to give it to them because they ref so few games a year, unlike baseball and basketball. It makes sense, it's a mess, but the real tragedy is the games that are having to go through with these replacements.
I wish it was as good as the movie The Replacements, but it's not. This rag tag crew of refs aren't coming out the winners. In fact, they're showing the world how hard it is to be a ref. To know every detail of the game, be able to call it perfectly, and to step up into rules you're not used to calling and get it right. The problem is these guys aren't the best of the best in college world. Those refs? They're still in college, because they are probably making more money, had their travel arranged, etc., etc., etc. So they are the ones making the good calls on the big college networked games. These current NFL replacement refs, well they weren't seasoned enough to ref those games.
6th string. Now, for the NFL, 6th string isn't great, but they make great tackling dummies at practice. Unfortunately, when it's game time, they're on the bench keeping it warm for everyone else. Or sometimes, they don't even dress.
I feel bad for these refs, they're doing their best, but the tv fans, media, and everyone else is so quick to rip them apart. I stat basketball games, and I don't envy the refs at all. It's hard enough following all the information I have to process, let alone remember every single rule. We have a team of statisticians that work together to comprehend it all. It's tough work, but these refs are mixing college and NFL rules, and just all in all making it a mess. But, they're doing a way better job than I ever could. And I don't have a tv crew breathing down my back, pointing out all my flaws to millions of people.
The players are frustrated, they don't feel like the games are fair, you can tell, they're telling the refs which calls to make. You can tell the refs are listening too. As long as they listen to both teams . . . they might as well listen to the ones who know the rules better than any other.
The ref that I feel bad for the most? The Saints fan ref. He had a few photos in Saints shirts and jerseys, and he was released from being a ref. For VERY good reasons, as anyone involved in the documentation and outcomes of any sporting game, you are not to gamble, have fantasy leagues, or even promote that you prefer one team over another. It shows bias, and the teams are very aware that it doesn't end well. Remember the refs that took money on games? Yeah, it all starts somewhere, so they take it out at the beginning. So this ref, who normally refs college (I think, I didn't do that much research on him), got the chance to ref his favorite team's game. Do you know how excited he was? Do you know how much he was working to prepare himself to be unbiased and act professional? A ton, because most people that work in this industry, don't watch games like a fan anymore. Screaming and cheering goes out the window. So the likelihood of him being bias was slim, but it's perception and nipping it in the bud. The NFL had to release him, there was no question. But he got the break of his lifetime, and never got to even try for it.
All in all? Give the refs a break, but for goodness sake . . . can we get the old refs back?