Every NFL offseason has its challenges. For teams, its making roster moves and drafting the right players to be more competitive for the upcoming season.
However, this offseason has an extra challenge on its plate, one that could have a hand in determining who wins the battles on the gridiron every Sunday.
Four long-term referees retired after the 2017 season ended. Gone are the likes of Gene Steratore, Jeff Triplette, Terry McAuley, and Ed Hochuli. That means four brand new referees are coming into the mix, and that could just be the beginning. Rumor has it that possibly four more referees (Walt Coleman, Pete Morelli, Tony Corrente, and Walt Anderson) could be retiring within the next year or two, according to Ben Volin of the Boston Globe.
“I’ve never been involved in a season where you went with four new referees, and four referees that really haven’t been around the league that long,” FOX’s Mike Pereira, a former NFL V.P. of officiating, told Volin. “And first-year referees aren’t eligible for playoffs, so you’re going to dig deeper into the remaining stash of referees. That could create a problem, too.”
The problem isn’t just that those who retired are referees. These guys, who combined for over 85 years of experience and five Super Bowls, were the cream of the crop. They wear the white hats, they head their crew and they speak to the audience. These are the guys that aren’t going to be easy to replace.
The NFL has already announced the replacements for those who have left. Ed Hochuli’s son, Shawn who has four years of NFL experience, will be his replacement. Also announced were Alex Kemp (four years), Shawn Smith (three years), and Clay Martin (three years).
Pressure is going to be on these new referees to gets calls correctly with the ever changing rules that the NFL has. This doesn’t even include the now legal aspect of sports gambling.
All eyes will be on these new referees come September when the 2018 season kicks off. If they struggle to get call correct, fans will be clamoring all over them like they did when the replacement referees struggled in 2012.
Featured image by Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
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