After a disastrous weekend of wrecked calls by the NFL's replacement officials—including a blown call to end Monday night's game between Seattle and Green Bay that's resulted in a call by Packers fans to boycott the league—New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney said Tuesday he plans to introduce legislation that would nix pro games played under replacement refs in the state, citing the risk to player safety.
“This past weekend in the NFL has not only made a mockery of a great sport, but shined a very bright light on how important fully trained and professional officiating is to player safety,” Sweeney said in a release. “We wouldn’t allow a factory or construction site to operate without fully trained supervisors on hand to ensure the safety of employees. Why should we do anything differently when the job site is a playing field?”
The laundry list of blown calls, phantom penalties and the inability of replacement refs to control the game, where injuries occur even when there are highly qualified refs, is proof something needs to be done, Sweeney said. He further cited the replacement refs' effects on the quality of play on the field, and said it hurts the investment fans have made in tickets and personal seat licenses, which can run into the thousands annually.
“Whether the sport is football, soccer or baseball, when referees don’t know how to properly enforce the rules, there is a real chance for unnecessary and serious injury,” said Sweeney. “If the NFL insists on putting replacement officials on the field, putting players at risk, then the state shouldn’t be playing a part in that.”