After a weekend of jostling and dirty plays in the NFL, it raises the question what is fair and what is foul?
In the era of the replacement officials, players can conduct themselves on the field a little differently. It was evident in week two of the NFL season and only the second regular season game these officials have officiated.
Players have been able to get away with the small, sneaky, dirty plays ever since these new officials have been inserted. Although the officials have improved from their pre-season gaffes and erroneous calls, there are calls still being missed and dirty plays that are changing the momentum of the games.
In the majority of the week two contests, there was some instance of dirty play that changed the tone of the game. Whether it be Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman, Darnell Dockett throwing in a little pile driver at the end of the play to Stevan Ridley of the Patriots or the final kneel to run the clock out in the New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers game in which Giants quarterback Eli Manning was shoved to the ground in an absolutely meaningless play, the officials are beginning to lose control.
Believe it or not, in such a violent game there used to be a sense of community and family that ran throughout the league. Although while the game clock is running, opposing players are enemies, when that clock takes a break, so do the players from all the violence.
It used to be opponents would help each other up after blasting them out of bounds. Now, it has come to bending and pulling a receivers leg after making a catch, evident in the New York Jets game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The integrity of the NFL is rapidly vanishing with these new replacement officials. As this integrity vanishes, so does the protection of the players. The same players that dictate the entire success or failure of the league. It seems like a no-brainer to bring back the officials from last season to protect the health of the players and to have more consistency in the penalty pattern.
Although it is exciting to watch your favorite team get riled up in the moment and deliver those cheap plays that get under the opponents’ skin, what happens when that same playful banter injures the star on your team? Is it okay because everyone is doing it, or must it stop? Or do we go back to the saying that it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt?
Ultimately, the decision is up to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and if he believes that the cost to bring back last season’s referees is worth the reward. Whatever decision he makes must be made quickly before it changes the outcome of a team’s season.