A GRIP ON SPORTS
After watching a lot of NFL action yesterday, I've done a complete 180 on the replacement referees. I really believe the league should keep them. Read on.
• As readers of this column know, the RedZone channel is my go-to destination on Sundays. And that's where I spent my time yesterday, watching bits and pieces of each and every NFL game. But the RedZone has changed this season. Not only does the channel bring you every single score, it also seems to highlight every single mistake the replacement referees make. And that's why I think the NFL should keep them. They add another element of suspense to each game. Heck, it's important – and fun – to just watch them mark off penalties. You never know when a team might gain six or seven yards on an off-sides call. Yesterday, there was one play that illustrated it all so well. The Lions and Titans were locked in an epic overtime battle with the Titans having the ball at their 44-yard line. Jake Locker dropped back and connected with Craig Stevens on a 24-yard gain. And boom, Stevens was nailed in the helmet by Stephen Tulloch. A flag came out, and for some unknown reason, 14 yards were tacked on for the illegal contact. Except the booth guys, who aren't replacements but the usual employees of the NFL, decided to overturn the call of a catch on the field. No 24-yard completion, but the penalty, which should be 15 yards, stands. The referees got together, marched off the 15 yards and put the ball at the Lion 29-yard line. The only problem was the penalty should have taken the ball to the Lion 41. The officials marked the penalty from the Lion 44, not the Titan 44. Fun. Of course, that wasn't the only entertaining call of the day. There was a 20-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Redskins after the officials told everyone the game was over, then took it back, and there was the challenge they gave 49er coach Jim Harbaugh even though he was out of time outs. Plus, a coach, Bill Belichick maybe, just might accost one as the fellow is leaving the field (above). See, added value to the telecast. “Come for the touchdowns, stay for the screw ups.” They should just keep replacing officials every week, maybe even calling a guy or gal from the stands each game to chip in. Wouldn't it be cool to see someone in a Steelers replica jersey, face paint and a big foam finger standing in as the back judge, throwing flags for pass interference? Heck, take away the jersey, face paint and foam finger and they could pass for the group that did the Super Bowl against the Seahawks.
• Washington State: Sunday night practices are for getting the aches and pains of Saturday worked out, whether those pains are physical or mental. That's what the Cougars did last night and Christian Caple was there, along with Dan Spitz (No. 71 at left), the starting offensive lineman who has missed the past couple weeks. Christian has his practice-report blog post, his morning post today and a story on Saturday's opponent, the second-ranked Oregon Ducks. … Ted Miller has his look back at the weekend and his Pac-12 power rankings, with Oregon on top and Cougars at the bottom.
• EWU: Jim Allen posted some day-after thoughts on the blog yesterday.
• Chiefs: Not a good start for the Tri-City Americans, who drop their second consecutive game, losing 4-2 at home to Portland.
• Seahawks: The one thing about Monday Night Football. Everyone in the pro football community watches. What else is there to do? You can only break down video so long on a Monday. Might as well take a break and watch two of your peers play. The Hawks and coach Pete Carroll (above) hope they can grab a bit of the spotlight tonight with their game against Green Bay. Jon Gruden, one of the ESPN announcers, thinks they will.
• Mariners: One more hit. That's all the M's needed to sweep the Texas Rangers this week. But like a lot of times this season, they came up just short and fell 3-2 to the AL West leaders. … Want to know a bit more about a couple members of the bullpen? We have you covered.
• NBA: The Seattle City Council is ready to vote on the arena proposal.
• The work week starts off pretty well if you are a sports fan. Work all day, then race home in time to watch the Hawks match up with the NFL's legendary franchise, the Green Bay Packers. A good way to finish a tough day. Until later …