Everything in NFL is now ‘unofficial’

In the mid-1990s, then North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il picked up golfclubs for the first time in his life and, amazingly, scored 11 holes-in-one during his first 18 holes of play.

We know this because, according to North Korean state media, there were 17 witnesses.

Could it be that those 17 witnesses are now replacement refs calling games for the NFL?

How else to explain a game-winning touchdown that obviously should have been called an interception for the other side? Like the North Korean witnesses, the officials in the Monday night game didn’t allow themselves to be swayed by any physical evidence.

What should we think of a called 15-yard penalty that was improperly marked off as 27 yards and may have affected the outcome of another game? How about the numerous botched interference calls and roughing-the-passer penalties?

More than anything, how can one explain the fact that the replacement officials have not only lost control of most NFL games, but after a preseason and three weeks of regular games, they appear more befuddled than ever about football rules and how to apply them.

On the game-ending touchdown in the Monday night game between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks, two officials standing just a few feet from each other simultaneously signaled different outcomes. One signaled a Seattle touchdown, the other said it was a Green Bay interception. How they resolved the dispute so quickly in favor of Seattle will remain a mystery as great as the Dear Leader’s amazing golf prowess.

Give the replacement officials credit for trying — with far too little training and experience — to run NFL games while the regular officials are locked out in a benefits and salary dispute with the NFL.

But good intentions and sincere efforts aren’t enough if they aren’t accompanied by ability. Ask Tim Tebow.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell needs to drop the charade that these replacement refs can keep up with the fast pace and complexity of NFL games.

The chorus of complaints is growing ever louder. Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback and NFL broadcaster Troy Aikman tweeted after Monday night’s game that NFL games have become “a joke.” Various sportswriters have echoed that sentiment and demanded Goodell settle with the regular officials.

Michael Rosenburg of Sports Illustrated noted Tuesday that the difference between the NFL and the referees’ union amounts to $3.3 million a year. This in a league where billionaire owners routinely pay multimillionaire star players more than that in annual salary.

Atrocious officiating in NFL games isn’t the most serious problem in the world today. But it is likely to cost the NFL fans — and money.

Goodell should reach agreement with the regular refs, and quickly. Until they return to the gridiron, we can’t help but consider every game played in the NFL as, well, unofficial.


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