Kansas City, Mo. When an official walked up to Jerry Rice before the game and said, "It's an honor to referee a game with you," Tim Brown thought there might be problems with the replacement refs.
He was right.
While nobody is saying bad officiating helped Oakland beat Kansas City, 27-24, Sunday, everyone does agree the game was rife with bad calls, no calls and confusion.
"We need (the regular officials) back," Chiefs cornerback Ray Crockett said. "I'll pitch in (money) to get them back."
Brown, who had eight catches for 133 yards for the Raiders, said he was shocked that the replacement officials appeared to be star-struck.
"I was like, you've got to be kidding me," he said. "I've never seen that in my 14 years (in the NFL). Please bring back the real officials."
Kansas City linebacker Donnie Edwards, while agreeing that the game was full of mistakes, does not believe the official who approached Rice showed a lack of professionalism.
"We're all adults out here. He's just expressing his feelings about the career of Jerry Rice," he said. "I think he was just showing Jerry respect for what he's accomplished in this league. I talk to the regular referees all the time, too."
Brown was in the center of a questionable reversal that would have blown up into a full-fledged controversy if the Raiders had lost. Late in the first half, Charlie Garner made a great catch of a Rich Gannon pass and was blasted out of bounds by safety Jerome Woods. First ruled a 27-yard gain, the play was reversed upon review when the referee decided the tackle did not cause both of Garner's legs to go out of bounds.
Brown drew a 15-yard penalty in the ensuing argument, so instead of having a first down on the Chiefs 12, the Raiders were pushed all the way back into their own end of the field.
"It was kind of 50-50. They made bad calls both ways," Chiefs defensive end Eric Hicks said. "It doesn't matter. If they're going to have these officials come in and call our games, then we just have to go out and play.
"There were some bad calls and there were some good calls. I think there were more bad than good."
A slow whistle almost got Oakland linebacker Greg Biekert injured. Biekert picked up a ball off the ground after an incomplete pass and was jogging forward when Kansas City's Donald Willis leveled him, not sure whether the play had been ruled a fumble.
"You've got to get in front of the runner and stop the play for the safety of the players," said Edwards. "You've got to make sure you stop the play. It's loud out there."
Looking at game film on Monday confirmed what he had suspected during the game, Edwards added.
"There were some serious officiating problems. Rich Gannon got away with some pretty obvious grounding penalties."
But he disagrees with players calling for a quick solution to the officials' salary impasse with the NFL.
"These replacement officials are trying hard. As they get more games under their belt, they're going to get better," he said. "As players and coaches, we've got to understand that."