NFL and referees reach eight-year agreement to end lockout

By By Tara Sullivan

The Record (Hackensack, N.J.) (MCT)

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 26 2012 10:19 p.m. MDT

Oh we’d still watch – a Wednesday email from the NFL offices blared about record-setting local television ratings in all 30 markets – but the games had taken on an air of anticipatory dread. We were all waiting for the next car crash, hoping it wouldn’t happen, yet afraid of missing it all the same. The players felt it, and they didn’t like it.

“Sunday night game, the world’s watching and all eyes are going to be on (the officials), which is unfortunate,” Giants defensive end Justin Tuck said before the agreement. “Normally, in a game like this, eyes are going to be on Eli (Manning) or (Michael) Vick or (Victor) Cruz or JPP (Jason Pierre-Paul) or whoever – those are the people that normally the fans are going to watch. Not Sunday night. They’re going to be paying attention to the calls. They’re going to be paying attention to how we react to the calls and things like that.”

The integrity of the game was most definitely at stake. Every time a player bullied an official into calling a hold or flagging pass interference, the game was compromised. And that was indeed happening.

“I think it’s getting out of control a little bit because nobody respects the replacements. Guys are giving them a hard time,” Giants tight end Martellus Bennett said. “If Larry Fitzgerald comes up to you and you’re a replacement and he goes, ‘hey he’s holding me every time,’ they’re probably going to look at it like, ‘hey, that’s Larry Fitzgerald.’ That’s just the way it is. Everything works better for stars in America.

“No, it’s not good for the game. The whole idea of not having regular refs out there wasn’t good for the game.”

It wasn’t, it isn’t and it never will be. And now it’s over.

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