Mike Pereira, the league’s former vice president of officiating and now an NFL rules analyst for Fox, publicly asked Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, a member of the NFL negotiating committee, to end the lockout.
“Arthur... get the refs to the table tomorrow and get this done,” Pereira wrote on Twitter Monday during the Falcons-Broncos game.
But if pressure on the league to strike a deal with the NFL Referees Association was increasing, there was no sign of a breakthrough. The league continued to stand by the work of replacement officials.
“Officiating is never perfect,” the league said in a written statement released Monday. The current officials have made great strides and are performing admirably under unprecedented scrutiny and great pressure. As we do every season, we will work to improve officiating and are confident that the game officials will show continued improvement.”
There appears to be much to improve. The NFL removed a replacement side judge, Brian Stropolo, before Sunday’s game between the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers after it was reported that photos of him wearing Saints gear were on his Facebook page.
Several games during the weekend, including the Redskins’ loss at St. Louis and the Philadelphia Eagles’ win over the Baltimore Ravens, featured scuffles among players. Some games seemed to drag on while officials worked through rules and replay issues, prompting complaints about the flow of play.
“The control of the game is the biggest thing—the chippiness, guys [taking] cheap shots,” Alexander said Monday in the locker room at Redskins Park. “Some of that stuff, the other refs don’t have tolerance for. ... As soon as you start throwing 15-yard penalties on people, I think that gets guys to calm down a little bit.”
The NFL Players Association has called replacement officials a safety issue for players. Alexander said he’s beginning to have concerns.
“You’re going to come up with schemes, come up with techniques or a mentality and push the envelope as far as the refs allow you to do. Until they call it, why wouldn’t you do it, if it’s going to give you an advantage to win games? …Guys were getting thrown down, literally getting tackled, covering kickoffs [Sunday]. But they’re not calling it. So as a player, why not do it?”
Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan said he never had seen a game like Sunday’s defeat. “I’ve never been in a situation where you feel that there is going to be an explosion on the field,” Shanahan said Monday. “You’re hoping that doesn’t happen. It was very close to losing control.”