The lockout, which was because of a dispute over pay and pensions, kept the referees out of work from June until the fourth week of the regular season. The two sides agreed on a deal that will raise the refs’ pay from a yearly average of $149,000 to an average of $173,000. Their pay is projected to increase to an average of $205,000 per year by 2019, according to ESPN.
Though the new referees seemed out of place, this isn’t the first time the NFL has used replacements. When they were last used in 2011, however, they were only used for the first week of the regular season, and they came from Division I NCAA football. This year, they were brought up from Division II and III football, and even from the lingerie football league.
The incompetent and unsteady refs showed an obvious lack of experience, causing major uproar and increasing the need to resolve the lockout. Talks between the two sides increased in urgency after a controversial call in week three’s Monday night game between the Packers and the Seahawks.
Seahawk quarterback Russell Wilson threw a Hail Mary pass into the end zone in the final seconds of the game. Though a Packer defender caught the ball, Seahawk Golden Tate was also able to get a couple of fingers around it. In the confusion, one ref called the play dead while the other claimed it was a touchdown.
The replacement refs made another game-changing call in week three that gave the Ravens the win over the Patriots. The only difference between those games was that Patriots coach Bill Belichick didn’t react as professionally as Packers coach Mike McCarthy did.
While Belichick was fined $50,000 for grabbing a referee after the game, McCarthy spoke calmly after the game, stressing the fact that he was trying to keep a level head. In addition, Patriots QB Tom Brady insisted that the refs were just trying their best. But if “their best” was altering the outcome of important games, it simply wasn’t good enough.
Senior Kayla Prandoni, a Redskins season ticket holder, doubted the authority of the replacement refs.
“They definitely affected games in a negative way,” she said. “The regular referees blow calls, but it seemed like the replacement refs didn’t have a strong grasp of the rules. They’re not as confident with their calls.”
After Monday night’s debacle, fans left 70,000 angry voicemails on the NFL’s answering machine complaining about the referees.
After the first week of having the referees back, there were zero controversial calls.