The intensity of the frustration with NFL replacement referees increases daily, and might have hit a boiling point when Jerry Markbreit, one of the most respected on-field officials in league history, chimed in with his opinion of what has transpired in the first two weeks of the season.
Markbreit, speaking on ESPN Radio in New York, took aim at commissioner Roger Goodell instead of the replacement refs, saying Goodell is devaluing officiating in the NFL and that the performance of replacement referees will deteriorate over time.
“It’s obvious to me that (Goodell) just doesn’t even care,” Markbreit said. “Otherwise, how could they replace professionalism with unprofessionalism in a game that’s so tough to work, even for the best officials in the land? How could he care about it?”
Markbreit was an official for 23 years when he retired in 1998.
Some have expressed confidence that replacement referees will improve as the weeks go by. But Markbreit could not disagree more.
“The management of the games gets tougher (in the coming weeks),” Markbreit said. “These guys have relied on competent, top-notch, terrific officials all these years. And now they have a bunch of amateurs out there and it’s going to fall apart.
“It’s not going to get better, as the commissioner said,” Markbreit added. “It’s going to get worse.”
Coaches and players have echoed Markbreit’s sentiment in recent days, as replacement officials made several questionable calls in Week 2.
“When you look around at some of the calls being missed, player safety is the big issue,” New York Giants defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka said.
The NFL locked out the regular officials in June after their contract expired. Negotiations with the NFL Referees Association broke down several times during the summer, including just before the season, and the league is using replacements for the first time since 2001.