NFL referees are either the most loved or hated part of close football games. In the past, fans would hold their collective breath as the referee would go to the booth to look at the best viewpoints of a crucial play that could decide the fate of the game.
This fall you will be able to see them too. According to Atlanta Falcons president and NFL committee chairman Rich Mckay, “They’ll see the exact same angles at the exact same time as he (the referee) does.”
The move was decided after changes to the replay system last season worked much better than the league expected. Reviewing every single scoring play last season only added an average of one second to NFL games in 2010.
Mckay said that the decision was part of a continuing effort to improve the fan experience at games. It may also be that the league is trying to protect themselves from potential backlash this upcoming season when NFL referees are watching the game from the stands.
The NFL Referees Association filed an unfair labor practice charge against the league in late June. Negotiations were “terminated” in early June by the NFL.
The reason for the unfair labor practice charge was because the union believed that the league was contacting replacement officials and were not “negotiating in good faith.”
“It is now clear the league never intended to work toward a fair agreement, even through mediation. Our organization’s professional referees will continue preparing for the 2012 NFL season to the best of their abilities, despite the NFL’s refusal to provide them with vital training and educational materials.”
– Statement from the NFL Referees Association
It seems interesting that most parties that end up litigating with the league over issues seem to have similar statements. The NFL Players Association responded with the following statement.
The NFL Players Association is concerned about the NFL’s decision to lock out professional referees and recruit scabs (replacement officials) to serve as referees in NFL games for the 2012 season. In 2011, the NFL tasked officials with increased responsibilities in protecting player health and safety, and its search for scabs undermines that important function. Professional athletes require professional referees, and we believe in the NFL Referees Association’s trained first responders. The NFLPA will continue to monitor the league’s actions in this situation.”
– Statement from NFL Players Association
While the league may not show much recourse to coaches, players (former and current), or even referees there does seem to be one group that they still want to please; the fans. Well, until we try to suit them at least.