As the NFL starts the season with replacement officials calling the games, the new refs are almost being looked at as comic relief in some corners.
Botching a coin flip? Hah! Deeming a ball on the 4-yard line a touchback? Genius!
Andre Johnson doesn't see anything funny about the situation though.
"I really don't think it's a laughing matter," Johnson said Wednesday after Houston Texans practice, with the first replacement-ref game of the season just hours from kicking off.
"I feel like it should be done right now seeing how big officials are for this game," Johnson said of a new deal between the NFL and its referees.
Johnson — the Texans all-pro wideout, one of the most respected players in the entire league — brought up both the idea of the replacement refs deciding a game and his concern over the safety issue. The 10-year veteran does not understand why regular officials do not have a new deal yet.
"I feel like it should be done right now seeing how big officials are for this game," he said.
Johnson said a few times that he hopes the replacement officials go out and do a good job. Which doesn't mean he's feeling great about the referee situation as the Texans' Sunday opener against the Miami Dolphins approaches.
"I don't think it's much to joke about," he said of the replacement refs.
Especially with the NFL preaching player safety like never before while using NFL-inexperienced, third-tier officials that could put that very focus in jeopardy.
"Sometimes the game can get a little reckless," Johnson said. "You have the crazy hits and things like that they may not call."
Johnson may be one of the quietest Texans. Several of his teammates joked in the locker room earlier in the day about how just seeing Johnson with a simple smile drives home how much the proud man is looking forward to this season. But that doesn't mean No. 80 doesn't have strong opinions.
Andre Johnson speaks up about things that matter. Officiating included.