Echoes of replacement refs.
One item in the labor agreement the NFL struck with its game officials in 2012 after the lockout called for "all-star" crews working the postseason.
The NFL Referees Association insisted on it. The league was so eager to get the regulars back on the field after the replacement officials debacle that it agreed.
After the uproar surrounding one specific non-call in the Detroit-Dallas wild-card game Sunday — and other calls made or ignored over the weekend — lots of people are wondering why the NFL gave in.
Generally, before 2004 the highest-rated full crews worked playoff games and the Super Bowl. That changed to a hybrid system in '04 that allowed for eliminating lower-rated officials on some crews from working the postseason.
Moving to the current "all-star" approach allows for officials rated highest at each position by supervisors to get the premium assignments. But it also can rob the crews working the critical January and February games of the cohesion developed through a full preseason and regular season.
Regardless, until the CBA with the officials' union runs out after next year's postseason, the "all-star" format is in effect.
So how are these officials evaluated?
Officiating supervisors rate performances of on-field referees, umpires, linesmen and judges every week on every play. All of the supervisors are former on-field officials.The crewmembers get to see those weekly reports.
Officials get an accuracy percentage on their calls for the entire season, "which takes into account the calls made and missed, and calls that should have been made," says Dean Blandino, director of NFL officiating.
Then the officials are grouped into three tiers based on that accuracy percentage of their calls. Those in Tier 1 are eligible for playoff assignments, including the Super Bowl and the conference championships.Those in Tier 2 will "fill in the blanks" and handle some of the other playoff games.
If an official is in Tier 3, he gets no postseason assignments and "could be up for employment review," Blandino says.
Seniority is not taken into account.
Once placed in a tier, the officials are divided up based on other criteria. That includes decisiveness, clarity of explanations, control of the game, physical fitness, and several other categories.The officials who rate best overall are chosen to work the postseason.
No crew will work more than two games. The Super Bowl crew will handle one of this weekend's games, meaning that Pete Morelli's group that worked the Lions-Cowboys contest will not do the big game."For the Super Bowl crew, we want them to work one game, and the divisional round is best," Blandino says. "It's not that long a break after the season or before the Super Bowl. It fits right in the middle."
Often, several of the officiating crew members will have worked a game or more during the regular season, perhaps even much of the schedule. For Lions-Cowboys, Blandino says four of the officials had been at the same regular-season game, but none had worked with Morelli in 2014.
As for which particular games the crews get in the first two rounds of the playoffs, Blandino says the NFL will "look at the matchups and the two teams and tendencies, and then look at the officials and if they fit for certain matchups."
Could the assignment system be changed once the CBA with the officials' union concludes?
"It's definitely something to look at after the 2015 season," Blandino says, "but at this point there is no strong opinion one way or the other."
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Every week we get emails through our contact page that should never be sent. I intentionally have very little text on there, in the hopes that people will actually read it. If you don’t want to click through, it says:
I am just one guy, and I’m not affiliated with the NFL. Venting to me is pointless. If you choose to waste my time and vent anyhow, we reserve the right to publish your full email on the site, including your name and email address.
After the Lions-Cowboys game last week, I got a decent number of upset Lions fans that emailed me. After the Dez Bryant no-catch today, though, wow! Not only did I just get hundreds of emails from Cowboys fans that clearly can’t read, it’s at best a 50/50 call anyhow. I tend to think it was a good call on a bad rule, but my opinion doesn’t matter; I’m just a dude watching the games. The Lions got hosed, which most everyone can agree on, but the Dez call is more difficult. Regardless, I have nothing to do with it.
I don’t know if this means Dallas has the worst fans, but they’re clearly not big on reading, don’t spell especially well, and love exclamation points.
That said, the “we reserve the right to publish…” part of that page has been up for a while now. If people feel like flooding my inbox with insults, I’ll share them here for all to see. Here is a small sub-set of what has come in so far. Feel free to write back to any of them and start up a friendly dialog. 🙂
Be advised, these emails are completely untouched, including foul language, so proceed as you see fit.
Bill Gloeckler – firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m not a Packers fan but i now believe these games are fixed by the officials. I and all my friends will be sharing this on Facebook worldwide. I’m done with the payoffs you recieve
John Cannon – email@example.com
The refs absolutely suck this year. They have ruined football. That Dez Bryant call was terrible.
RJ ware – firstname.lastname@example.org
Yall mother fuckers are worthless. My bind grandmother makes better calls. Yall do not deserve to call professional games you sorry chick sucking mother fuckers
Martin Loewen – email@example.com
Fucking call me you fucking pussy refs for overturning that dez Bryant catch!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 432-638-0656
later from Martin again…
Tell me to my face that dez Bryant didn’t catch that ball!!! I dare you!!!!
513 CR 201
Seminole, TX 79360
scott collins – firstname.lastname@example.org
Y’all have ruined the game of football for me that was a catch by Bryant he clearly showed possession and elbow was down before ball come. Out I thank it was a touchdown me and my father are through watching football you officials have ruined the game for us we hate yalls. Guts
Brenda Schumacher – bs.pilates@gmIl.com
Even the Dallas “haters” are so aware and calling you guys WHIMPS AND WEAK!! You buckled under last weeks horrible call against the lions so you thought you could redeem yourself against a Dallas and all you did – confirmed you are weak and have no business refereeing! Stupid call against Dez!! His knee was down and he had total control of the ball with one hand! Call the game correctly and stay out of the teams way to lose or win! You buckled under pressure of haters do in my eyes- I will never trust you until you turn it around and prove you can call a game justly. Worts call EVER!!
Joe Harrison – email@example.com
As a retired referee, I just witnessed the worst playoff call I have ever seen. After the Dallas receivercaught the ball, he maintained control for three steps which demonstrates a legal reception. He again caught the ball placed two feet on the ground and continued to run. The ground cannot cause a fumble on a run. Was this call made for profit or just pure stupidity!!!!
Jacke Zannini – firstname.lastname@example.org
That’s the worst call of all time taking the catch away from Bryant. Not a fan of either term but 2 bad calls against Dallas. The refs ruined the game & should be FIRED w/ no pension -and investigated. Totally changed the fair outcome of the game. Unacceptable & you should be ashshamed. Appears criminal!
Bruce Burnett – email@example.com
I really think you need to find people who know the game before you have them referee a game like the Dallas vs Greenbay lots of BAD CALLS….. get with it or get out of the sport !
Montgomery Heathman – firstname.lastname@example.org
The referees in the Dallas vs Green Bay are the most inept I have seen in 45 years of the NFL. The call on Dez Bryant’s catch in the fourth quarter was terrible. I’m launching an investigation to determine influences compromising the integrity of their actions on the field, including any possible financial gains possibly made by their officiating. They all should be fired.
tim pohs – email@example.com
The officials in the playoffs this season are all blind as hell they don’t even deserve to work at the piggly wiggly my blind def mute grandmother can call games better than them
alina paradoa – firstname.lastname@example.org
Which one of you made that lousy call at the Dallas-G game?
Shame on you!!!!!!!!!!!!!! A blind man could have seen the catch better than you.
I don’t how much you get paid for doing what you do, but you should in all honesty quit or give your money back… Damn unbelievable.
Go ref at middle school games man, not even high school!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
brittany self – email@example.com
I am highly concerned that y’all don’t know how to call a complete catch. Y’all screwed over the Cowboys against the packers in the playoffs 2015. Y’all should make it right towards football teams that y’all don’t like. Y’all have a lot of outraged fans this season. Y’all need to learn how to call the right plays or don’t be a refree at all. Thank-you
brian machado – firstname.lastname@example.org
are you kidding me! Not only did Dez make great catch he had total enough control and presence of mine to extend arm with ball to end zone. Thanks for nothing u blinde f!
You do not belong with the rest of the competent refs., an embarrassment to your profession.
chris rake – email@example.com
How is it even acceptable you will let a official dictate the outcome of a playoff game of this magnitude. I find it very unprofessional and unecceptable especially at this level and this far into the season (playoff game). The Dallas Cowboys in all fashion should have won this game. I am appalled, not to mention it takes away the integrity of the game. I am ashamed and I hope you can sleep at night. Who’s side were the refs on today???????
Brian Steele – firstname.lastname@example.org
You guys are trash Steratore is a piece of shit he fixed that game for Green Bay you can all go fuck yourselves you cheating pieces of shit
I’ll post more as they continue to come in…