Thursday, September 27, 2012

Have We Reached the Squeal Point? (NE v. BAL)

Back on September 7th, I penned "No Agreement ... No Referees." In my comments to the cited Washington Post article, I mentioned a squeal point where the NFL union caves to the Referee Union. After Sunday's New England v. Baltimore game, and Monday's Sea Hawks v. Green Bay game, I wonder if we are there.

Now regarding the New England game, some may come right out and say that I am a New England-ite and have a baked in bias. Well, they would be part right as I do cheer for the team, however I am largely ruined when it comes to most sports as I am far to into the refereeing to be anything other than objective. On a level this is actually really pathetic as I generally watch referees, and not the actual game itself. A noted exception is Little Ms. Saturday morning "magnet ball" sessions.

Now, Bill Belichick is reportedly going to be fined $50,000 for his Sunday night incident where he grabbed a referee (please note I am not using the adjective "replacement" as they are referees), in an apparent attempt to dispute weather the winning field goal actually passed through the uprights, or over them.

I frankly support the fine as grabbing an official is off limits, period. Even if, and I do believe this part, it is done to try to get the attention of the referee. I think there is a lesson in there as well for referees in general, and that is how to deal with end of match confrontations.

Take a look at Belichick defends his contact with replacement referee, from SI, note that "replacement" word again. The first thing that struck me was the picture of a growling Belichick, and a cowering referee. It smacked of "just get me out of here" instead of "let's talk about it."

In the article, Belichick hit the nail on the head had this quote:

"I've coached in this league a long time and never been penalized, never had any incidents with officials or anything like that," he said. "I have never meant any disrespect or in any way tried to abuse or be disrespectful to the officials and the job that they do. I was just trying to get an explanation for, obviously, an important call.

"That's the No. 1 thing between coaches and officials. It's always at the forefront. It's just communication of what's going on, what's happening."

Communication. That's what he states (and I believe) he was after.

Imagine, just imagine, if that referee when Bill tugged on his arm, turned, waited for Bill, and walked side by side with him to allow Bill to ask his questions, or plea his case for the time from the field to the tunnel. What do we think the result would have been?

I opine much better for all. Bill would not be receiving a fine, and the referee would have earned some additional respect from Bill, and the coaches in general.

Both men knew that the call would not change, but Bill wanted to vent, and likely even genuinely ask what was happening. I think that is good, and high level referees employ this technique often to great effect.

It should have happened here, and as it is not, it smacks of "amateurish" behavior for some current NFL referees.

Honestly it is not dissimilar with College soccer and amateur and pro level play, where in my experience a referee who does mostly college matches I find sometimes very "thin skinned" when it comes to a player or coach giving them rubbish. It is the environment they were brought up in and are used to. Keep in mind many of these referees are D3 football referees ... in a college program. Their heads have to be swimming.

Point being here, talk to players, talk to coaches, hear them out, let them vent (not abuse you ... think Brandon Spikes on Twiitter), and things will go better for all.

After all, everyone want to be heard when they have something to say. It's just human nature. 

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