NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sought to move past the league's labor issues with its officials today by instituting a player honor code which will require the league's players to call penalties on themselves.
"Today's decision ends our need for officials on the field, be they regular or replacement officials," said Goodell. "At the same time, we place more control of the league into the players' hands, which is something they said they wanted during last year's labor negotiations. I think it's plain to see that this was the best solution both for the short-term and moving into the future."
Starting Week 1, players will be tasked with calling holding, false start, offsides, pass interference, too many men on the field, illegal formation and every other penalty normally the purview of football referees. Games will be reviewed by the league office each Monday and those players who don't call penalties on themselves will be fined.
"Not only does this bring integrity to the game and allow us to save a few bucks by not having refs, but I get to fine a ton of people," said Goodell. "And these aren't small fines. You hold someone and don't call it? I'm taking a game check. It's going to be fantastic."
The commissioner stressed that players policing themselves is not unheard of in professional sports.
"They do it on the PGA Tour," said Goodell. "How is golf different than football?"
"My god, what a moron," said NFL players union chief DeMaurice Smith. "Just another example that Roger Goodell never played football. Sadly, though, based on how he handled SpyGate, the Saints, the lockout, the referee lockout, disgruntled veterans, head injuries, the completely arbitrary suspending and fining he does and many other things I'm forgetting, this might not even rank among his top five worst moves as commissioner. If the NFL didn't print money by default, he would have put the league out of business years ago."
Jets backup quarterback Tim Tebow says he welcomes the change.
"I like the honesty that the new system will require of players," he said. "If I ever get into a game, I will consider it an honor to call an intentional grounding penalty on myself."