Former referee says Roger Goodell ‘doesn’t care’

Fresh off what many are calling the replacement referees’ worst performance of the season, a former referee tore into NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and said the officiating will get worse before it gets better.

“It’s obvious to me that (Goodell) just doesn’t even care,” said Jerry Markbreit, a fixture in the NFL for 23 years before retiring in 1998. “Otherwise, how could they replace professionalism with unprofessionalism in a game that’s so tough to work, even for the best officials in the land?” he said on ESPN Radio’s The Mike Lupica Show. “How could he care about it?”

Markbreit scoffed at the notion the replacement refs will get better as they gain experience.

“The management of the games gets tougher (in the coming weeks),” Markbreit said. “These guys have relied on competent, top-notch, terrific officials all these years. And now they have a bunch of amateurs out there and it’s going to fall apart.

“It’s not going to get better, as the commissioner said … It’s going to get worse.”

Criticism of the replacement refs reached new highs after Monday night’s Falcons-Broncos game in which the officials seemed to have trouble controlling the game, took too much time to decide calls and even marked off an 11-yard penalty for what should have been a 5-yard defensive holding penalty.

In addition to doubts about their competency, questions have been raised about the new refs’ impartiality.

A side judge, Brian Stropolo, was yanked from the New Orleans-Carolina game just before kickoff after it was discovered he had pro-Saints messages on his Facebook page.

And Eagles running back LeSean McCoy told a Philadelphia radio station that a referee told him that he needed him to do well for his fantasy team.

“I’ll be honest, they’re like fans,” McCoy said. “One of the refs was talking about his fantasy team like, ‘McCoy, come on, I need you for my fantasy.’ Ahhh, what?”

Here’s what some fans had to say in a recent AP video.


From a fan’s perspective, have you noticed a big difference in the quality of the officiating?

104 comments Add your comment

JP

September 19th, 2012
10:09 am

Wow. I think this thread is being populated by the replacement refs. Anyone who’s a fan of the NFL and has half an ounce of intelligence realizes that these games have been painful to watch. On the whole the officials do a decent job, apart from taking forever to make the calls and knowing when to make pass interference calls. They just don’t seem to have any idea what constitutes pass interference. They call it when it’s not there; they don’t call it when it is. Oh, also, these guys are intimidated by the players and that’s why we’re seeing so many scrums between not-so-classy teams like the Ravens and Eagles. Bottom line, the replacements are in over their heads, and the fans pay to get something better than a league where are the officials are getting a crash course in on the job training. It’s not the replacements’ fault, it’s Goodell’s. But that former league official is correct, Goodell doesn’t care about the integrity of the product the NFL puts out, only $$. As long as people continue to watch — and they will — Goodell has no reason to have a sense of urgency about this. This situation is only going to get resolved when enough owners have grown tired of seeing the outcomes of their games affected by bad calls and decide it’s worth it to open up their wallets a little.

A.B. Normal

September 19th, 2012
10:26 am

Guess I’m like ol’ Roger cuz I don’t care about the overpaid, underworked union officials either. Reminds me of the air traffic controllers strike of 1980. Reagan fired ‘em all, hired replacements, and the industry kept on rockin.’ Goodell should take a lesson form Reagan and do the same. After all, someone has to make the french fries at Micky-Deez, right?

Turkey Slayer

September 19th, 2012
10:28 am

Unions of any sort are an outdated thing. Let’s move forward and bring this country back.

Southern Man

September 19th, 2012
10:30 am

Are they not aware that they’ve already been replaced and marginalized by video replay?

Just me

September 19th, 2012
10:33 am

@OldBravesBag “For all you people promoting union busting. You do realize that the players also have a union, don’t you? ”

Sure they do. That is why some guys make $8 million a year and others makes $250K a year. Keep drinking the cool aid. Don’t forget to make your uninformed vote for Obama.

Bob

September 19th, 2012
10:34 am

The replacement refs are NOT horrible. If the coaches and players would quit trying to intimidate them and once they get info from the booth in a timely manner, the game can get back up to speed. The commissioner should put a hefty fine on the Denver coach for all his mouth, as he spent more time harassing the officials than coaching. If the Denver coach who was on the field with all his players had done his job and got his players under control and off the field, there would not have been that big pushing match. I think the officials flagged the head coach during the game but ended up picking it up. Once the coaches and announcers get back to doing their job, the game will get back to normal.

Just me

September 19th, 2012
10:36 am

@JP “This situation is only going to get resolved when enough owners have grown tired of seeing the outcomes of their games affected by bad calls and decide it’s worth it to open up their wallets a little.”

So you are saying bad calls by the refs who are on strike never determined the outcome of games? Can you name a game that the outcome was determined by a bad call by the replacement refs?

THRASHERS SEASON TICKET HOLDER (Retired)

September 19th, 2012
10:43 am

BREAKING NEWS:

Compared to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on the topic of “caring,” Roger Goodell is “Jerry Sandusky” in terms of showing affection for his league and customers.

David Puddy

September 19th, 2012
10:54 am

EX Ref?….and why should we care about his opinion on anything? Bust the union. They always over reach and attempt to get more than they deserve. And believe me when I say the union bosses don’t care about anything except enriching themselves. What a bunch of nitwits.

David Puddy

September 19th, 2012
10:56 am

Goodell has gotten control of these band of nitwits and it keeps many of them on guard to not be idiots. A breath of fresh air.

BC

September 19th, 2012
11:04 am

There was a great analogy made Sunday…it is like having a substitute teacher out there!

Let's Be Real

September 19th, 2012
11:09 am

People who want to bust unions are very self-loathing and they want to see other people become as miserable as they are.

Let's Be Real

September 19th, 2012
11:12 am

Bob

September 19th, 2012
10:34 am

The replacement refs are NOT horrible.

Whoa you’re wrong

Let's Be Real

September 19th, 2012
11:13 am

Turkey Slayer

September 19th, 2012
10:28 am

Unions of any sort are an outdated thing. Let’s move forward and bring this country back.

That’s right, let’s fight for our right to earn lower wagers and fewer benefits. You’re such a good little shill!

Tag

September 19th, 2012
11:18 am

No one is indispensable!

Let's Be Real

September 19th, 2012
11:21 am

Goodell could prove he’s not a fraud, but he won’t because he is.

x union member

September 19th, 2012
11:41 am

Goodell is 100% right and I hope the Union fails…the ref’s will get better but the damn Coaches need to get under control.
Let’s be real..unions today have caused more problems than help. They trying to control not only business but now Congressmen, senator, govt, and the Pres with there money and influence buying judges and dirty tricky. Its not to help the working man but to fill their own pockets $$$ open your damn eyes.

x union member

September 19th, 2012
11:43 am

Power and control thats unions goal.

Big D

September 19th, 2012
11:47 am

The ref’s are doing okay. The regulars made plenty of mistakes. It is a part time job not a career. I say let the strikers stay on strike.

Casey

September 19th, 2012
11:48 am

I will say this once again for those of you who didn’t understand the first time. ROGER GOODELL HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE LOCKOUT! All of that is decided by the OWNERS!

tardawg

September 19th, 2012
11:50 am

D I and II officals refused to do NFL games because they want OT make the next step up or they are already part of the union, that’s part of the problem too. If I was a D III ref and had a chance to make the money in one game than I make all year for some I calling a NFL game who wouldn’t.

Slimmer Shady

September 19th, 2012
11:50 am

The striking referees choose not to work. The NFL revolves around teams @ players not referees. The games will go on without those money grubbing losers.

tardawg

September 19th, 2012
11:52 am

should had read want to

Let's Be Real

September 19th, 2012
11:55 am

x union member

September 19th, 2012
11:41 am

Goodell is 100% right and I hope the Union fails…the ref’s will get better but the damn Coaches need to get under control.
Let’s be real..unions today have caused more problems than help. They trying to control not only business but now Congressmen, senator, govt, and the Pres with there money and influence buying judges and dirty tricky. Its not to help the working man but to fill their own pockets $$$ open your damn eyes.

Yet you’re oblivious to corporate lobbying, which outspends labor lobbying many times over. And you seem to think that only union officials are trying to line their own pockets, not corporate executives. You’re just another boring reactionary child.

Old Dawg

September 19th, 2012
11:56 am

I can see both sides. Yes, the regular officials are members of a union and, yes, they have full-time professions. They have numerous meetings throughout the year to receive updates on rules changes and other issues. They meet before and after games for meetings with league officials.

As a business, the NFL is responsible for increasing revenues etc so that the league prospers. Part of that responsibility is to manage costs, like labor, etc.

Another responsibility is to a quality product and brand image. The replacement officials is damaging the product and the brand. The league and refs need to work this out, and quick. Until the strike is over, the league also needs to inform coaches that this is the National Football League and not professional wrestling.

If they don’t, the product and brand will quickly be on equal footing with the guys with tights and masks and fake blood.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Let's Be Real

September 19th, 2012
11:57 am

Slimmer Shady

September 19th, 2012
11:50 am

The striking referees choose not to work. The NFL revolves around teams @ players not referees. The games will go on without those money grubbing losers.

You probably said the same thing about the players when they were locked out last year.

Right-wing Minion of the Oligarchs

September 19th, 2012
12:07 pm

Who cares? It’s just football refs, not something critical like air traffic controllers…

Michael

September 19th, 2012
12:18 pm

if Men could study how to run a family like they know football, what a difference this country would see.

Brasstown

September 19th, 2012
12:24 pm

Old Dog-Seems to be the heart of the matter. The owners made a bad business decision. It’s hurting their brand and now how will they back out of it without looking weak? It’s become comical. Monday night’s game took so long, I finally just went to bed. I probably missed a lot of commericals. Managing your labor costs are part of running a business.

aon

September 19th, 2012
12:45 pm

I watched the Falcons’ game on television and I agree that the focus needs to move away from the refs and put on the players and the coaches. It was frustrating listening to the announcers as one was trying to do just that while the other wanted to keep focusing on the referees. In my opinion the game was long but it was one of the BEST Falcons games I have seen in years! As far as the comment the Eagles running back made about the referee, that is definitely a problem and that ref needs to go. As far as the Denver coach goes, showing your a– is never attractive.

Let's Be Real

September 19th, 2012
12:50 pm

Why do so many whiners think the coaches should shut up instead of just getting the regular refs back who are used to that kind of pressure. The coaches are doing their jobs, screaming at incompetent referees isn’t a big deal. No one ever cared about coaches hassling the refs before the strike.

Paul in NH

September 19th, 2012
12:54 pm

There is no strike – this is a lock out.

FalconFann

September 19th, 2012
1:21 pm

Finally!!! Thanks Paul in NH!!! The refs are not on strike they have been locked out by the owners… While I’m not a fan of unions I do recognize their place in the American workplace but this is not about unions. This is about the replacement refs doing a poor job. I was at the game Monday and it was painful to watch. The first quarter took almost an hour to complete. I have never been to game where a quarter lasted that long and it was due to the replacement refs not having control of the game. Plain and Simple!!!

Arlo

September 19th, 2012
1:22 pm

I wouldn’t mind making six figures to work 16 games in a 17 week period. Yor union is asking for too much, shut up and get back to work!!!

HSRef

September 19th, 2012
1:26 pm

For All Of You Stating Facts about how much NFL Referees Make & What Should Be Done To The Union #GetFactsFirst

Annual Salary
As of May 2011, NFL referees earn anywhere from $25,000 to $70,000 per season, according to Job Employment Guide’s website. This is among the lowest annual salary for any group of referees for professional sports in the United States. The 16-game NFL season — the shortest in professional sports — somewhat mitigates this low salary. The short season also makes NFL referees part-time employees, leaving these professionals to pursue other employment during the off-season, which can help increase overall income for the year.

Pay Per Game
Games officiated determines the pay structure for an NFL referee. A referee only gets paid for games he actually officiates, just as NFL players receive varying degrees of pay based on being on the active roster or on the inactive list. This accounts for the wide swing in referee salary, as not every official is available for every game. The sporadic nature of pay for an NFL referee is part of the reason why the NFL Referee’s Association has repeatedly sought pay increases over the years.

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HumanResources.CampusCorner.comReferee Union Representation
NFL referees sought nearly a 400-percent increase in annual salary in 2001, according to ESPN’s website. The NFL countered with a 40-percent pay increase proposal. The referees’ union representation sought this increase to bring annual salaries more in line with the salaries of referees in higher-earning sports leagues, such as Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association. NFL referees lost the bid for the staggering wage increase during collective bargaining discussions, in part because the NFL still considers referees as part-time employees. Since 2001, NFL referee salary has doubled, but has never reached the original 400-percent proposal of that year.

Required Experience
An official must have prior experience in football officiating before garnering a job as an NFL referee. According to the National Football League’s website, a candidate must have a minimum of 10 years of experience in officiating football. At least five of these years must be at the collegiate varsity or minor professional level. A prospective NFL referee must also belong to an accredited football officials association, or have previous experience in football as a player or coach. The more experience a candidate brings to the position, the higher the starting salary.

Read more: How Much Do NFL Referees Make a Year? | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/info_8484787_much-nfl-referees-make-year.html#ixzz26wBMKY5G

Elroy

September 19th, 2012
1:26 pm

How can anyone seriously use the lame excuse of cost…you have hundred+ billion dollar asset and you are worried about 10 million dollars for the ref’s….I despise most Unions , but this is joke not to meet these guys halfway. Enough said, oh, and by the way…have you noticed that these replacement turds kinda appear just as lousey as ACC refs! Yikes!!!!

HSRef

September 19th, 2012
1:42 pm

Some More Information on the LOCKOUT (Not Strike)

Union chief gives NFL referees’ side on lockout in open letter – I did a little research on the NFL referee dispute. It’s not a dispute and definitely NOT A STRIKE, but an outright lockout — which means that the NFL has reneged on a long-term CONTRACT with the NFL Referee Union and has said if you won’t renegotiate with lower pay and benefits, you are not allowed to return to work and we will not honor that contract. The value of those benefits that the NFL no longer wants to pay its referees, even though it’s in their contract, is worth probably a few hundred million dollars in future pension funding by the NFL, which equates down to about $10 million to 20 million a year right now that the NFL doesn’t want to pay their 180 referees.

The NFL, which is a not-for-profit that includes an arrangement in which the owners get to deduct their $5 million to $10 million a year in fees from their own taxes like a church or the Red Cross’s own donors do (and keep in mind that the owners’ stadiums are also recipients of billions in direct and indirect welfare for “their” stadiums, parking, real estate and other taxpayer help), will do nearly $10 billion in revenues this year, including donations from the billionaire owners into the league’s coffers. Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner and my old beer-drinking buddy when I hosted my Fox show out of the Waldorf Astoria, and one other guy, the NFL president, will take home about $20 million in salary this year. I am not a commie and I am not a socialist, and if that is capitalism then I guess I’m not a capitalist either — at least not in this crony-capitalist 21st century. Please spread the word and maybe at least the referees can benefit from the welfare the NFL gets. Not cool at all.

omg

September 19th, 2012
1:48 pm

This would not be a debate if Payten Manning had beaten the Falcons! The Falcons played a great game and the ESPN guys who thinks football is about them paid little recognition to the play of the Falcons. ESPN commentators during the game is ok as long as I can hear them and watch the game. But do you realize I DO NOT CARE TO SEE THEM OR WATCH THEM TALK TO ONE ANOTHER. I could care less about the new refs if they would stop showing the ESPN guys and gals.

WhoCares?

September 19th, 2012
1:54 pm

Thank you, HFRef, for a little research. I don’t follow all the issues, but I do understand this is a lockout by an NFL that doesn’t want to pay even a tiny part of its resources to keep the game at a high level. It’s insulting to the players and coaches and to us fans. Roger Goddell needs to settle this.

Ted Striker

September 19th, 2012
1:58 pm

I’m not a fan of the replacement refs however I’m less a fan of Joel Provano’s articles on the AJC.

Please do this reader a favor.

Label Provano’s writings on the sports page (or wherever else) so I don’t click them and inadvertently give him a page hit for his bush league drivel.

David Puddy

September 19th, 2012
2:04 pm

“Goodell could prove he’s not a fraud, but he won’t because he is.”

He is running a business.

HERE COMES THE JUDGE!

September 19th, 2012
2:14 pm

Apparently very few of the bloggers did not see the stats compiled by ESPN…three categories. Replacement refs had lower percentage of overturned calls…lower percentage of penalties called per game and a small average in length of games – regular refs: 3 hrs 3 minutes – replacement refs: 3 hours 10 minutes. These stats may not be exactly what I saw but they’re close. My opinion is that they have a tough job under tough circumstances. My opinion of the toughest call: Pass interference or defensive holding by corners or safeties. Hang in there refs!!

Dawginit

September 19th, 2012
2:23 pm

Shocker, I’d imagine the Chicago teachers who were on strike would say the superintendent “doesn’t care” either.

Let's Be Real

September 19th, 2012
2:39 pm

David Puddy

September 19th, 2012
2:04 pm

“Goodell could prove he’s not a fraud, but he won’t because he is.”

He is running a business.

Thank you for saying what little needed to be said, Cap’n Obvious.

Bob

September 19th, 2012
6:25 pm

It’s a game that has morphed into a mega business. Just because the players are overpaid doesn’t mean the refs have to be overpaid, too. If you are good at your job, you’ll get a raise…unions only reward mediocrity. Just my opinion and I am not a replacement ref.

Delbert D.

September 19th, 2012
6:30 pm

Keep the replacements, I say. It makes for better theatre. Sooner or later, the owners will come to inevitable conclusion that they need me for that job. I’m very available.

Delbert D.

September 19th, 2012
6:31 pm

This blogging environment is now leaving out words, what’s with that?

tdawgmoney

September 19th, 2012
7:26 pm

Unions have nearly ruined this country…….Union bosses spend gazillions for 3 causes…..1) more money (they never get enough), 2) better benefits (they could care less if they bankrupt a company) 3) the right and threat to fight or strike if they don’t get enough of 1 and 2.
The fact is…..we need to treat the lazy, worthless shickheads like Reagan did……give ‘em 48 hours to report or they are fired. Air traffic controlllers were a far more “professionally trained” group…..and we did just fine without them. Trust me, we would be better off without these jerks…….they are an abomination to capitalism.

Paul in NH

September 19th, 2012
8:57 pm

tdawgmoney
If the NFL is going to be a capitalist organization they need to get rid of the following:
Revenue sharing – talk about socialism in action
The salary cap – wage controls! another socialist principle
The draft – Is this the USSR? What an infringement upon the rights of an individual

Greg

September 19th, 2012
9:02 pm

The NFL has no respect for the fans or the players. They are willing to risk player safety and put out a very inferior product over a few thousand dollars in a billion dollar business. I will not be watching or attending any NFL games.