|Monday, September 10
No major controversies in Week 1
There were no game-turning botched calls, no players injured because of a mistake and a general feeling that the NFL survived its first week with replacement officials.
Not surprisingly, the union representing the locked-out refs thought the replacements were terrible.
"The most poorly officiated professional football game I've ever seen," Tom Condon, negotiator for the regular officials, said Sunday after he watched Oakland beat Kansas City 27-24.
And Oakland quarterback Rich Gannon -- whose agent is Condon -- said the officials missed a bunch of calls -- "intentional grounding, delay of game, a lot of stuff -- and I mean on us."
Most of the mistakes were technical, like referee Bill Etzler keeping his microphone on in the Seattle-Cleveland game, allowing him to be overheard when he asked umpire West Fritz a question about when the clock is stopped.
"I thought they did a great job," said wide receiver Eric Moulds of Buffalo, which lost 24-6 to New Orleans. "I really wasn't worried about what they were doing. From what I could see, they made some good calls. They're going to be rusty a little bit, because they're replacement officials. But overall, I thought they did a great job today."
Said Seattle coach Mike Holmgren: "I thought they did a pretty good job. They didn't throw a lot of flags and they kept the game under control."
All of this becomes fodder for the negotiators when they talk this week.
Condon and Jeff Pash, the lead negotiator for the NFL, have been in contact by phone, but no formal talks have been scheduled.
Last week, the union turned down the NFL's proposal to raise salaries this year by 60 percent, up from 40 percent, and the league turned down the union's proposal to work this year with a no-strike guarantee if the dispute were put to binding arbitration after the season.
The replacements, meanwhile, get paid $2,000 a game for the next two weeks, whether they work or not.
As for Sunday, there were two games that could have been decided by a call but weren't.
One was the Oakland-Kansas City game that Condon and Gannon thought was badly officiated.
But the call was reversed upon review when referee Randall Beesley decided the tackle did not cause both of Garner's feet to go out of bounds. A furious Tim Brown then drew a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty, which resulted in the Raiders having third-and-17 from their own 46 instead of first-and-10 from the Kansas City 12, and helped the Chiefs take a 14-6 lead into halftime.
But Oakland won 27-24 in overtime, making the call moot.
In Philadelphia, the Eagles scored a fourth-quarter touchdown when a 1-yard pass from Donovan McNabb to Cecil Martin was first ruled to have come up short of the goal line. It was overruled when referee Al Hynes looked at the replay -- after 66,000 fans cheered wildly when the play was shown on the replay board.
"There were two replays that I saw," said Hynes, an NFL supervisor. "One shows that he turns toward the goal line, and as he turns toward the goal line you can see from the one side that the ball is across the plane of the goal line."
But the Rams won anyway, 20-17 in overtime.
Overall, opinions on the officiating depended on perspective.
"The officiating crew that we had today was horrible," said Washington's Bruce Smith, whose agent is not Condon.
"There were a number of plays out there, at least six, and we're going to send into the league and I would hope that the league would take action and fine these guys. They were a mess and they definitely put players' careers in jeopardy. This is unacceptable."
On the other hand, Smith and the Redskins lost 30-3 in San Diego.
When you get beaten that badly, it can affect your mood.