If this is not a sign that the NFL expects the replacement referees to be around for a while, then what is? The league reached out to the owners, general managers and coaches of all 32 teams this week to advise them that the type of on-field behavior it witnessed last weekend will not be acceptable this weekend.
In other words, all the bickering to referees, bumping and even shoving of the officials is out of line and will not be tolerated any longer. In NFL language, “will not be accepted means” fines, fines and more fines. And possible suspensions, depending on the severity of the violation.
Coaches, including coach John Fox and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio of the Denver Broncos along with San Fransico 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, were spotted berating officials in a way unacceptable to the league office. They almost resembled Major League Baseball managers attacking umpires.
“We contacted them to remind them that everyone has a responsibility to respect the game,” NFL executive vice president Ray Anderson said Thursday night. “We expect it to be adhered to this weekend and forevermore.”
The last time the NFL reached out to so many teams on an in-season issue it felt this important was an October weekend in 2010. There were multiple helmet-to-helmet hits on unsuspecting receivers, including a violent hit from Atlanta Falcons cornerback Daunte Robinson on Philadelpha Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson that got him fined $50,000.
After watching coaches’ behavior with replacement referees last weekend, the league determined it was unacceptable and put everyone on notice.
Asked what would happen if another coach berated another replacement referee this weekend, Anderson said: “If someone were to make that mistake, he would be flagged on the field and he would be hearing from our office in a very firm way.”