Ah, Chris Kluwe, our Vikings punter. He is one of the most outspoken and entertaining Vikings on the team. If you aren’t following him on twitter frankly you are missing out. I enjoy his tweets which tend to be witty and are often honest to a fault. Following the preseason game against the Bills he self-evaluated his performance as “poopy”. Not necessarily a grownup choice of words but an accurate assessment none-the-less.
Other than evaluating himself, Kluwe doesn’t seem to shy away from evaluating the performance of others as he showed in his recent tweets about the replacement referees after the preseason game against the Chargers. Kluwe suggested that the NFL should “kiss and make up” with the refs. Calling the replacements “horrible” and stating that “…it’s kind of embarrassing.” Of course his controversial commentary hasn’t flown under the radar. Now some in the media are slathering at the mouth awaiting the word about potential fines that could come down from NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell.
Although Twitter maybe isn’t the best medium for airing all that fills your mind, it is hard to argue with Kluwe’s point. In the game against the Chargers there two potentially game changing bad calls regarding a fumble and an interception. Despite the fact that the Vikings would have benefited from the bad calls even the Vikings fans in the stands were shouting that the calls were obviously wrong. In addition to those missed calls there were numerous ball placement problems, penalties called for player numbers that don’t exist and everyone’s favorite, leaving the mic on while the whistle is blown. At one point a holding call on the offense resulted in a 5 yard penalty and the referee mistakenly advanced the ball 5 yards before another referee stepped in to make the correction.
Friday night’s game wasn’t the only game where the referees fell short and Kluwe isn’t the only player thinking of or voicing concerns about the replacements. Charles Woodson, Packers CB, voiced similar concerns after the Packer’s last game. The teams and the venue may be different but the lack of observable confidence in critical and basic calls is sadly familiar. It isn’t hard to imagine that the number of players willing to take to social or traditional media resources to be heard will increase exponentially if some of these bad calls end up as a loss in regular season.
If you’re thinking that players like Kluwe should just stick to playing football and let the NFL take care of the referee situation that’s fair. Unless you consider that this is exactly what most players want to do. Football is a game of gaining territory. It’s one thing to fail at protecting your part of the field or succeed at gaining ground due to your skill or that of your teammates but it’s another thing to have your success dependent upon someone who doesn’t appear to understand the complex rules or speed of the game.
Kluwe has been called out as “just a punter” a few times as though his opinion doesn’t count. Well I’m “just a fan” and I agree that it is time, Commissioner Goodell…time to kiss and make up with the real NFL referees.