By Mike Freeman | National NFL Insider
August 6, 2012 4:13 pm ET
You didn't see much about this on television. Or hear about it. But players from the New Orleans Saints and Arizona Cardinals claim replacement officials working the Hall of Fame Game made so many errors, players from both sidelines began openly mocking them.
The mistakes, players say, were numerous, despite not being discussed much or shown on the broadcast. For one, players say, not a single, non-special teams holding penalty was called. That is a remarkable thing for the first preseason game of the year.
Players gave numerous examples, but said two were blatant. In one, officials forgot to move the marker after a 3-yard loss. The loss was followed by an incomplete pass. So it should have been third-and-13 but the marker showed third-and-10 because the official forgot to move it. One sideline erupted over the mistake and the officials corrected it.
On another play, it was explained by players, there was a holding call on a Saints punt return and it took the officials four attempts to correctly spot the football. (I could be wrong but I don't remember seeing any of this on the broadcast.)
"We were all laughing on the sidelines at how clueless they were," said one player.
It got so bad players began mocking the replacement officials. Players also say some of the officials began arguing amongst themselves vocally in front of the players.
The National Football League Referees Association, the union for the locked out officials, released a statement later on Monday saying it documented a number of mistakes as well. Biased? Of course. Accurate? Yes. Players pointed to many of the same mistakes the NFLRA did which included:
A touchdown ruled short
A no call for offensive holding in the end zone
A no call for illegal motion
A no call for kicking team member going out of bounds and touching ball first
Wrong penalty enforcement for offensive holding
A no call for illegal hands to the face
A no call for facemask
A no call for helmet to helmet on defenseless punte
The royally screwed up hold on a punt return
A no call on intentional grounding
A no call on defensive offsides
Do regular officials make these kinds of mistakes? Of course. But this goes to the fact that replacements refs are afraid to make calls.
This is going to be interesting to watch if these mistakes continue. Especially if there is no settlement of the lockout and this continues into the regular season.
Because it will be impossible to hide them forever.
I know I'm going to pay closer attention to the officiating in Friday's game. It'll be like watching amateur hour.