New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney plans to introduce legislation prohibiting the use of replacement referees for professional sports played in New Jersey, his office announced Tuesday morning, in the wake of controversy over the NFL's substitute officials' apparently botched call that cost the Green Bay Packers a win in their game against the Seattle Seahawks Monday night.
In the announcement, Sweeney said that the replacement referees, who have come under repeated fire during the first three weeks of the professional football season, put the players in danger of injury and lower the quality of play, which diminshes the money that fans invest in tickets.
“This past weekend in the NFL has not only made a mockery of a great sport, but shined a very bright light on how important fully trained and professional officiating is to player safety,” Sweeney said in a statement. “We wouldn’t allow a factory or construction site to operate without fully trained supervisors on hand to ensure the safety of employees. Why should we do anything differently when the job site is a playing field?”
The NFL's New York Giants and New York Jets play in East Rutherford, N.J.
The league has locked out its regular referees for the first three weeks of the season over a contract dispute with the referees union. The end of Monday night's game between the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks caused a stir in the sports world after the substitute officials made a controversial call on the last play of the game, which resulted in a Seahawks touchdown and win.
The NFL said Tuesday that the call was correct.
Sweeney wasn't the only public official riled up by the controversy. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, whose state is home to the Packers and who has gained a national reputation for union-busting, tweeted Tuesday morning that the NFL should bring back the unionzed officials. His office later clarified that the statement "has nothing to do with unions and everything to do with a blown call," according to Yahoo! News.