Exclusive Interview With Keyshawn Johnson On Referee Lockout
Former USC and NFL wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson has two perspectives on the three-month NFL referee lockout, which ended Thursday. The first stems from his time on the field and the second, from his work as a current NFL analyst at ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut. Johnson shared his thoughts in a recent interview.
Q: Do you believe the referee lockout tarnished the integrity of the game?
Johnson: No, I don’t think so. Both the owners and the referees were at a stand still in terms of what it was they were looking for regarding negotiations. The referees benefited from the debacles over the last few weeks, and the product of the NFL became a laughing stock. When you have the best game in America, you obviously need to have the best referees out there.
Q: Do you think the NFL put its players at risk by hiring high school, junior college, and Division III replacement referees?
Johnson: Most definitely. I think the speed of the game is a little faster than they are used too. If you watched the games over the last couple of weekends, a lot of collisions that probably wouldn’t have taken place with the real referees occurred. The players also knew that the referees weren’t accustomed to the speed of the game, so they bullied them in a way that allowed them to get some cheap shots in.
Q: Who was to blame for this lockout? Commissioner Roger Goodell, the owners, or the actual referees.
Johnson: I feel like it was a negotiation. The referees wanted multiple things: take care of their families, benefits, and more money. Roger and the NFL owners wanted full-time referees, and at that point in time the best thing was to lockout.
Q: If the lockout had dragged on for at least a few more weeks, would fans have stopped watching games?
Johnson: If it had gone to the last part of the season, it would have been real problematic.
Q: In your opinion, was the controversial call during the Seahawks vs. Packers game Monday night due to home field advantage?
Johnson: No, I think it was due to inexperience of the referees. The referees were in over their heads. They had no idea what they were doing.
Q: If the call happened at Lambeau Field (Green Bay), would it have been reversed?
Johnson: I don’t know if they would have made that call period. They would have made the right call, which was giving Green Bay the ball.
Q: Do you think this was the worst call in NFL history?
Johnson: Given the fact that it was replacement referees, no. In my opinion, the worst call was when I played for the Jets in 1998. Quarterback Vinny Testaverde was stopped at the 2-yard line, but was still awarded a touchdown
I personally thought it was the worst call, but Keyshawn knows best (even if he played when every touchdown wasn’t reviewed).