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Flags by replacements, regular refs about the same
NEW YORK (AP) - The numbers say there isn’t much difference in the NFL with replacement officials. Comments from players and coaches say otherwise.
As fan outrage grows over calls and non-calls, delays in doling out penalties and indecision by the replacements, statistics show strong similarities between the number of flags thrown this year by the temporary crews and last year by the guys who currently are locked out.
The NFL knows things are far from perfect _ something that could have been predicted with officials whose recent experience typically was not even at the highest college levels. But things are never perfect with the regulars, either, and the league shows no sign of being forced back to the negotiating table because of the criticism.
“We are going to continue to do everything possible to raise the level of performance of the current officials” through training tapes, conference calls and meetings, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said Wednesday.
The league does that with the regular officials, too.
One point of emphasis this week will be game control and making sure players are penalized for unnecessary actions ranging from roughness penalties to unsportsmanlike conduct.
Game control and simple professionalism by the officials have become key issues this week after complaints from a number of players.
“There’s no doubt the integrity of the game has been compromised not having the regular officials out there,” Giants linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka said. “We’ve got to get that taken care of.”
The Eagles’ LeSean McCoy was stunned when one of the replacements told the All-Pro running back he was on the official’s fantasy football team. The league prohibits its game officials from playing fantasy football.
“I’ll be honest,” McCoy said, “they are like fans.”
What the fans seem most annoyed with is the lack of pace to games, most notably Monday night’s win by the Falcons over the Broncos that dragged on past midnight. That’s about the only area where, statistically, the replacements have been far inferior.
Average time of game is about six minutes longer in 2012 than in 2011, and with only one overtime game in the opening two weeks _ same as last year _ extra periods can’t be blamed. More likely, the time it takes to properly administrate penalties throughout the game is the cause.
The league has a supervisor in the press box and an alternate official on the sideline to help in that area. But it’s been a struggle.
“It’s a combination of everything,” said Fisher, who has served on the NFL’s competition committee for most of his coaching career. “Most of them are not (from) Division I. They’re all doing the best they can but it’s a combination of everything: it’s the speed, it’s the differences in rules. We just hope they’re able to put things together as soon as they can.”
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