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NFL warns teams about conduct toward replacement referees

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The National Football League wants to ensure that coaches aren't confrontational with the replacement officials, even when they screw up calls.

So, the league has been contacting teams to warn them about potential discipline if the replacement officials aren't shown respect.

Coaches could be fined. A suspension is regarded as unlikely, but hasn't been ruled out if a coache really crosses the line.

Among the notable arguments with officials: Denver Broncos coach John Fox and San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh. 

The replacement officials are struggling mightily to keep up with the pace of the game.  

Negotiations remain at an impasse between the NFL and the NFL Referees Association with no deal in sight.

And players and coaches are highly critical of the replacements.

So, it's not exactly a shocker that conflict is going to arise between the players and coaches and the replacement referees.

It's a terrible situation created by this labor dispute.

Will coaches and players comply with the league directive? Probably. No one wants to be heavily fined or otherwise punished.

I still don't think it's going to entirely cut out the caustic comments about the referees or the occasional argument.

The referees had trouble controlling the players during the Ravens' 24-23 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles where several altercations occurred, including a few punches exchanged by cornerback Cary Williams and Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson.

It was clear that the players get away with whatever they can, almost like a substitute teacher standing in at a high school.

The five-yard chuck rule for cornerbacks is disregarded. Illegal contact is routinely allowed. The officials have trouble keeping track of timeouts and rule interpretations.

The nearly constant huddling of the officials to go over what's the right call is making the games drag out longer, testing patience.

If at some point, an injury occurs or a game is lost, because of a missed call, perhaps that will be the impetus for the league to settle its business with the regular officials.

awilson@baltsun.com

 

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