Legislator to Seek Ban on Replacement Refs in NJ

Democrat Steve Sweeney, who's been a longtime official in an ironworkers union, says the NFL's replacement referees have "made a mockery of the sport"

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Wide receiver Golden Tate of the Seattle Seahawks makes a catch in the end zone to defeat the Green Bay Packers 14-12 on a controversial call by the officials.

    Stephen Sweeney probably isn't the only Green Bay Packers fan who thought after the team's loss on a debated call Monday night that replacement referees should be banned.

    But Sweeney, the Democratic President of New Jersey's state senate, appears to be the first to push for such a law.

    Sweeney, the general organizer for the Ironworkers International union's Philadelphia-New Jersey-Delaware region, said Tuesday that he's drafting legislation to bar replacement referees from NFL games and other professional sports in New Jersey, where the New York Giants and New York Jets both play.

    In a telephone interview, he said that player safety is a major issue, but he's even more concerned about fans not getting their money's worth if bad calls are likely to change the outcome of games.

    He also said the league is hypocritical by locking out it regular referees amid a contract dispute. "The NFL sued New Jersey over sports betting because they were concerned about the integrity of the game," he said. "They can't have it both ways."

    Sweeney's bill will not be introduced before next week.

    While Sweeney grew up and still lives near Philadelphia, he said he became a Packers fan as a child in 1964 and has stuck with them ever since.

    Michael Drewniak, a spokesman for Republican Gov. Chris Christie — a Jersey guy who grew up as a Cowboys fan but also roots for the Jets — said doesn't know whether Christie would sign the measure should it clear the Legislature.

    The Giants and Jets both play at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford.

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