GREEN BAY – The NFL’s replacement officials weren’t the refs Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was unhappy with last Thursday night.
It was the SEC crew working the Vanderbilt-South Carolina game – the guys who missed, in his opinion, an obvious pass-interference penalty on fourth down with the Commodores, quarterbacked by his younger brother Jordan – that he wanted to have a word with.
Rodgers had seen the play on the big-screen TVs in the players’ lounge adjacent to the Packers’ locker room after he sprinted off the field the second the preseason finale against Kansas City ended.
“It was an obvious pass interference call,” Rodgers said Tuesday, speaking on the season premiere of his weekly radio show on 540 ESPN and ESPNWisconsin.com.
Rodgers actually had fewer issues with the replacement officials who’d worked his game, although he also had an interesting and nuanced opinion on the replacement refs Tuesday.
“There is definitely concern there,” Rodgers said when asked about the replacement officials working the NFL’s Week 1 games, including the Packers’ opener Sunday against San Francisco at Lambeau Field.
“I think this last crew that we had was excellent, and I told them that. I think the head referee had a great feel for the game; there was a dialogue between the quarterback and the white cap. He let me know coming out of timeouts how much time I had. There were just some game management things that he really understood. I think his crew did a good job of policing the game and not interrupting the flow of the game, but making sure the calls that were obvious calls were made. I don’t think that has happened in the first three games. Whether or not the other white caps had the same type confidence or not, it just didn’t seem like the game management part was all there.
“Now, with that being said, we have only seen four of the crews out of the 16 that are going to work. Hopefully we get a crew that understands their role and is not going to make any calls or non-calls that are going to affect the outcome of the game.”
On Aug. 23, Rodgers was critical of the crew that worked the Packers’ game at Cincinnati for missing, among other things, a blatant pass interference call on a pass to Jordy Nelson, but on Tuesday, he said he believed the replacements have been unfairly criticized.
“I think there has been a ton of scrutiny of them, and the one thing that hasn’t really been talked about – whether it is the replacement guys or the regular guys – is the fact that there are going to be some bad calls and some missed calls,” Rodgers said. “The replacement refs are in a difficult situation because every little that goes on is going to be magnified. They didn’t spend segments, from what I can remember, on (regular) referees with long diatribes about what they just saw under the hood, or when they pointed the wrong direction, or when they screwed up a call.
“The scrutiny these guys are taking is too much; however they have an important job to do and an important role in the game, (which) is to not interfere with the flow of the game, but make sure they are making the correct calls. Hopefully they don’t make any that make or break a game.”
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