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Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

As Bucs can attest, it's time for NFL and officials to make a deal



The officiating in Monday night’s game between the Broncos and Falcons is being widely panned today as, well, a fiasco.

Anyone who watched the game probably feels pretty strongly about the performance of the lousy replacement officials who worked it.
But we can also bring these issues about officiating closer to home.

While the Bucs did not appear to have any obvious officiating miscues in their opener against Carolina, there were a pair of very critical missed calls in Sunday's game against the Giants that further calls into question the ability of these replacements.

In the third quarter, running back Doug Martin had his facemask blatantly grabbed and pulled to the side by a defender, an infraction that prevented what likely would have been a first down. Martin came up a yard short on the play and was stuffed for minus-1 on the ensuing third down at midfield. The Bucs were forced to punt.

With the Bucs driving at the time, what if they had added another field goal? Or might the extra minutes run off the clock led to a different result?
There was more to come.

Later, with 28 seconds left in the third quarter, receiver Vincent Jackson, running a deep slant, was leveled by safety Kenny Phillips, literally launching himself into Jackson’s head area. It was an egregious hit that violated one of the league’s points of emphasis with all the stress on player safety.

Again, no flag was thrown.

FOX analyst Troy Aikman pointed out during the broadcast, “If that’s not a defenseless receiver, I don’t know what is. I don’t know an easier call to make.”

Here’s where it gets worse: Quarterback Josh Freeman threw an interception on the very next play, and the Giants’ rally was on.
Coach Greg Schiano said the team will turn in the calls for re-evaluation by the league office per usual, though there’s nothing league officials can do now but offer an apology.

What’s the point of all this? Isn’t about time this ended: Simply put, the NFL is being too heavy-handed with its locked-out officials. The league does not need this fight and this situation can be so easily rectified that's it's practically negligent to continue this battle.

How is it that a league that rakes in $9 billion in revenue each year is willing to risk one of its fundamental principles over something as little as pension benefits for guys who make a fraction of what players earn? This is not a matter of a cash-strapped municipality fighting firemen over pay increases. The NFL is a booming business taking a public-relations beating but continuing to undermine its arguments about player safety and the integrity of the game. Look at the lengths the league has gone to in an attempt to ensure those two issues are dealt with in a serious fashion. Even so, the NFL won't do the sensible thing here and get the deal done with its excellent officials.

This is a fight about principle. The league does not want to show weakness in negotiation. But the league at some point needs to apply some common sense and end this before someone gets hurt or a team is irreparably harmed.

Oh wait: The Bucs likely would argue that’s already happened.

[Last modified: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 10:46am]


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