Opinion: NFL Replacement Officials Will Cost Bettors Money
by Robert Ferringo - 8/23/2012
Officiating is one of The Great Unknowns in sports betting. You can quantify, predict and handicap just about all aspects of a given game, regardless of sport. But when the bullets start to fly, the referees, umpires and officials can be a bettor’s best friend or worst enemy.
Bad spots, blown calls, and homer officiating are part of the package when you wager on any sporting event. And in the volatile market of NFL betting, where there is usually a razor-thin margin between covering the spread or not, the officials can absolutely be the determining factor in a win or a loss or even an “over” or “under”.
So, yes, I am horrified about the specter of NFL replacement officials blowing one of my bets this fall. It’s going to happen. I know it’s going to happen. And at this point I feel I have no choice but to sit back and accept it. But I can’t.
Even under the best circumstances, officials blow calls that cost bettors millions of dollars each season. And that’s not an exaggeration.
There was Troy Polamalu’s touchdown-that-wasn’t reversal back on “Monday Night Football” in November of 2008. There was Ed Hochuli’s boner in the Denver-San Diego game in September of the same season. And just last year there was a brutal botch late in the Green Bay-New York Giants regular season game. The Packers won, 38-35, when an apparent Jake Ballard touchdown was ruled incomplete against the Giants late in the game.
In college football the officiating is even worse, and the examples are too bountiful to list in one post. (I still laugh about last year’s Syracuse-Toledo game where the Orange obviously missed the extra point – which was ruled “good” – and went on to win the game in overtime.)
So even when things are good there is still the chance of taking a horrendous, gut-churning bad beat at the hands of the men in stripes. But let me tell you, if the NFL Preseason is any indication there is going to be a lot of blood on the officials’ hands and a lot of pissed off gamblers cursing the NFL referees’ incompetence when the “real” games start in a couple weeks.
In case you are not up to speed, the NFL has locked out is regular officials. And the odds are against those officials being back on the field when the regular season starts because NFL owners are ruthless, greedy cocksuckers and because the existing poisonous, anti-everyone-who-isn’t-rich political climate against unions has suppressed voices that should be railing against owners and supporting highly-skilled organized labor. More public pressure would most assuredly make the owner cave in to the ridiculously low sums that would settle the dispute.
But apparently those scumbag masochists in management won’t feel compelled to move on the issue until there is a complete and total clusterfuck that costs tens of thousands of gamblers (that includes fantasy football players, which is a form of gambling) several millions of dollars.
According to published accounts, the whole dispute could be resolved by an extra $15 million over seven years toward the officials’ collective salaries. That is less than $63,000 per year from each owner, or less than what most of them spend on botox, hookers, or sterilizing their underground torture chambers each month.
I’m not going to go back and list all of the officiating absurdities that we’ve seen so far in the first two weeks of the preseason. But I will say this: I go back and watch film on every preseason game after the contest is over. And all I can say is “WOW”. To say that the scab officials are lost is about as understated as saying that Democrats and Republicans disagree on some things.
The NFL was not able to secure the best college football officials to fill in until the NFL referee lockout is over. The college officials A) didn’t want to screw over their NFL brethren, B) didn’t want to burn any future hope of becoming an NFL official because of A, and C) didn’t want to risk losing a full season’s worth of guaranteed checks for working college games in favor of a couple NFL paychecks.
So the NFL was left with the third-tier officials: guys who previously worked Division II and JUCO football games and – I’m not kidding – refs from the Lingerie Football League. They are blowing calls, they are missing spots, they don’t know the rules, they are marking off inappropriate yardage on the penalties that they do call, and they are basically making a mockery of the game. It’s been disgusting to watch and the general football-loving world is not going to stand for it once the season starts.
But they may have to.
I know that I am absolutely, 100 percent worried about the officiating and how it can impact my early season wagers. And as I stand right now I can say that I am definitely thinking about making smaller bets on games because I’m worried about them costing me a game that I should win. And while the coaches, players and front office personnel aren’t speaking out against the replacements or on behalf of the locked-out referees (everyone is worried about repercussions from the league and scum-bot commissioner Roger Goodell) I can guarantee you they are going to lose it if some replacement ref blows a call that costs them a regular season win.
And they won’t be the only ones.
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