Replacement Referee in Seattle/Arizona game: 'It was my error.'
By: Kim O'Hara | Posted: September 10, 2012
Despite an excellent first impression Wednesday evening, replacement officials are quickly wearing out their welcome; the NFL may have the beginnings of a real problem on its hands. As nearly all network/ESPN pregame coverage intimated, not all calls could or would be made. A hold here, pass interference there. No one was expecting perfection. But I doubt few were anticipating the fourth timeout Seattle was granted with thirty seconds remaining in the game.
“It was my error,” referee Bruce Hermansen said in a statement. “We gave them (Seattle) the additional timeout because of the incomplete pass stopping the clock before the injury (to WR Doug Baldwin in the end zone) occurred. When in effect, the clock has no bearing on the play at all, whether it’s stopped or running, we should not have given them the additional timeout.” I know I’m not an NFL player, coach or official, but isn’t this rule common knowledge? With less than two minutes left in the game, if an injury stops play, the injured player’s team is charged a timeout. Without this rule in place, any sort of hurry up, two-minute offense could be nullified by injuries (real or… less than real).
As I watched Sunday’s games, I mostly felt sympathy for these replacement officials. They’ve gone from calling minor college or high school games (some of them have been pulled from retirement) to now absorb the wrath of coaches and players at the pinnacle of football, such as 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh or Steelers linebacker Larry Foote. In both instances, the coach/player had valid points to make (there WAS an obvious block in the back non-call in Randall Cobb’s touchdown-scoring punt return; Peyton Manning probably was in the weeds and shouldn’t have been granted his incomplete pass to Willis McGahee), likely making their respective fury all the more terrifying.
That said, something must be done, and soon. This week the major storylines are a missed block in the back and an extra timeout, but the fallibility of replacement referees has been firmly established. Players can and will begin adjusting their approaches and I can almost guarantee it will not err on the side of safety. The NFL has crusaded for player safety in recent years; it is irresponsible for it not to reconcile with the NFLRA before someone suffers a serious injury.
Kim O'Hara is the Assocate Editor of TheFootballGirl.com. She is an avid fan of sports in general, but the NFL in particular. She has also been a contributor to ESPN the Magazine. Follow her on Twitter: @arahomik
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