Passing Judgment: Welcome Back Referees

After Monday night’s debacle which cost the Green Bay Packers a victory, it was inevitable that a deal would soon be reached between the NFL and its referees.  Sure enough, less than 72 hours later, a deal was reached which will allow the real referees to start working tonight for the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns game.  This is great news for everyone because the image and integrity of the NFL has been severely tarnished.

The record books must remain as is with the Packers losing the game in Seattle.  Somehow they will have to overcome that unfortunate result and focus on the rest of their season to make the playoffs despite having an extra loss they didn’t deserve.  But let’s not be ignorant here.  A blown call of that magnitude could have been made by the professional referees.  It is less likely, but still possible.

There will be an initial and temporary love-fest with the regular officials when they come back.  I am sure we will see players and coaches shake hands and give hugs to the refs when they take the field.  The fans will probably give standing ovations.  Ed Hochuli will probably do some pushups with an offensive lineman sitting on his back.  But that love affair will be short-lived because the first time an official blows a call or misses something obvious, everyone will revert back to their criticque and bitterness towards them.  But that is ok.  At least we know that these referees know the rulebook and are in a better position to make the right call.

During Roger Goodell’s press conference discussing the return of the officials, he said that sports is imperfect and that mistakes are made.  He said that is why we love sports.  I happen to agree with that.  Referees are people, and people make mistakes.  I think what was so inexcusable about the Pakcers vs. Seahawks game was the fact that the call was upheld after being reviewed.  These referees are watching the game in real time and have to make judgment calls at the speed of light.  But then they have an opportunity, in some instances, to view a play on instant replay and make the right call.  That is paramount to anything.  Thankfully we can relax and presume that the professional referees have an understanding and knowledge of the rulebook to make the right call.

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