Pittsburgh Steelers kicker and Wallaceburg, Ont. native Shaun Suisham shared his thought on the NFL's replacement referees.

Canadian NFLers say replacement refs did best they could

Suisham, Martin were understanding of lockout officials

Players on the Green Bay Packers roster may not be particularly understanding when it comes to the reign of the NFL’s replacement refs, but that’s not necessarily a sentiment shared across the league.

Take the views of Vaughn Martin and Shaun Suisham, for example.

In responses that many might label typically Canadian, Martin, raised in London, Ont. and Suisham, born in Wallaceburg, Ont., both said they felt sympathy for the replacements, who officiated the first three weeks of the season.

“I actually stayed up for the [Monday night] game and I did see [the contentious touchdown] happen live,” Suisham told Sportsnet the Fan 590 on Wednesday evening.

“Certainly I can see why the Green Bay Packers might be upset with the outcome of that game, but that’s football.

“People make decisions and you have no choice but to deal with it.”

According to the Pittsburgh Steelers kicker, players needed to focus their attention on the game, rather than on the questionable calls that were made on the field.

“You can’t lose sight of the fact that our job is to go out and play football and play it under the rules of which we understand,” he said. “[We] just play as hard as we can and we have to accept the outcome.”

About the referees themselves, Suisham could say no wrong.

“They seem like nice guys,” he said. “Being in NFL games to some of them is new. They have a lot of the same emotions as a young guy coming into the NFL and that certainly makes their job more difficult.

“From their standpoint, they had an opportunity for what would be the pinnacle of their career … Those guys are trying their best and I certainly don’t fault them for that.”

In fact, Suisham made sure to divert the blame from the negotiating parties as well.

“I don’t fault the existing officials for obviously trying to get what they feel they deserve or the NFL for fighting for what they feel is fair,” the 30-year-old said.

“It’s just part of the process … I don’t want to speak for everyone, but what we can focus on is playing football and generally everything else will take care of itself.”

Martin’s point of view was similar. 

“I’ll say this, it’s not something I’ve really paid attention to,” said the San Diego Chargers defensive end to Sportsnet the Fan 590 on Wednesday afternoon.

“Obviously, playing in the NFL it directly affects me, but generally speaking, I try to figure out how to do my job first before I try to figure out somebody else’s.”

Having come from a different system of football than most players currently in the NFL, Martin suggests that he can relate to the situation of the replacement refs.

“I guess the insight I can give you is, I came from Canada, I played in the CIS,” said the former University of Western Mustang. “When I got here for my first practice, it was fast, it was crazy.

“I don’t know what conference these [replacement referees] come from, but just like with anybody else, there’s going to be this period of adjustment.”

For Martin, the controversial calls of the past three weeks can be chalked up to inadvertence and inexperience.

“Maybe these guys deserve a little credit,” he said. “Everyone makes mistakes, and that’s what it is.”