It’s about time
Last Monday night, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell must have gone to bed knowing his worst nightmare had come true when the replacement referees blew the call at the end of the game between the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers. Up until that point the replacement refs were not ideal, but they were at least passable. That all went out the window with their ruling of a last-second Seattle touchdown that should have been called an interception, or at least offensive pass interference.
For the first time in memory, the regular NFL refs received a standing ovation in their first game back in Baltimore. As nice as it is to have the refs back who actually know how to call an NFL game, it never should have been an issue in the first place.
After the Green Bay Monday Night Football incident, the NFL office was reportedly flooded with more than 70,000 voice-mails from angry fans. Fans were upset because it was ridiculous. What’s even more ridiculous is that a couple days later they the NFL worked out a deal to bring the regular refs back. It took a call that blew a game for the two sides to come to an agreement.
It was no mystery this was eventually going to happen. Looking at all the questionable calls the replacement refs made earlier, anyone could see it was only a matter of time before it screwed someone out of a game, and that’s exactly what happened.
Bad calls can, and will happen to all officials, but the NFL officials are trained to see the game and will make far less mistakes than anyone else. The NFL needed to get this deal worked out before the season began. They owed it to the players who sacrifice their bodies to win games. They owed it to the fans that want to see a game called fairly and they owed it to the officials because of their skill set.
Instead of doing the right thing, they let this thing go for too long and it cost a team a win, but maybe its better it happened this way. If this wouldn’t have happened, the two sides would probably still be fighting over the money and fans would be stuck with mediocre refs. This forced the NFL’s hand and they had to bring the regular refs back out of self- preservation.
The bottom line –– the league got greedy and it bit them in the butt. Fans shouldn’t blame the replacement refs, because they did the best they could under the circumstances, but blaming the league is fair game.
Unfortunately, greed is becoming a common theme in professional sports. Three professional leagues, the NFL, NBA and now the NHL, have gone to lockouts in the past 14 months. It’s amazing that athletes and owners who are making so much money as it is can fight for even more, to the point of a season being canceled. Everyone involved needs to realize they have professions most people would kill for. Grow up and work it out. Fans don’t care about the money, but they care about the sanctity of the game. If that disappears, so will the fan’s money, and without that, nobody will be happy.
Kevin Bingaman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org