Yes, It's Official, Replacement Refs Gone - But Is It Too Late?

By Michael Collins

After three consecutive weeks of exponentially worsening calls by NFL replacement referees, the team owners and NFLRA finally decided to lock themselves in a room, Bronx Tale style, and get a deal hashed out to put the regular officials back on the field.

The question now becomes, did they get it done too late?

Up until last week, the bad and blown calls by the replacement officials had just been an annoyance. Enough to make you throw cheese doodles at your T.V. screen, but nothing more. They slowed up the games, and became laughable to watch when players and coaches started bullying them.

It was fun to make jokes about guys being removed from duty because they were a fan of the team they were slated to officiate (and had an active Facebook page showing this fact), or about refs trying to make calls in an $8 billion league who couldn’t even hack it in the Lingerie Football League.

But now we’ve had these unprepared and unqualified officials make calls that drastically affected the outcome of two games. Two games that hosted four possible (even probable) playoff contenders.

After last week’s debacles in the Green Bay Packers – Seattle Seahawks, and New England Patriots – Baltimore Ravens games, the winner of this year’s Super Bowl might have to have an asterisk placed by their name.

The Packers and Patriots will have plenty to gripe about if their postseason hopes are dashed because of a single loss, or even if they are denied a bye week and home field advantage in the playoffs should they make it.

If you don’t think that’s possible, then consider last year’s Super Bowl winner, the New York Giants. Had the Giants lost just one more regular season game, they wouldn’t have even made the playoffs, less yet go on a run to win the Super Bowl.

You just have to wonder if this deal would have gotten done so quickly if Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady weren’t the two guys who’s teams got screwed. I’m not so sure I see them rushing into a conference room to feverishly work on a deal because Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons, or Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals got hosed.

Roger Goodell and the owners he represents did some major damage to the league by letting this lockout even go past the preseason games, and Goodell himself has lost a lot of credibility with fans and players when it comes to his mantra of “player safety” moving forward.

It’s true that every team had to suffer the same number of games with Foot Locker employees officiating their games, but that doesn’t mean some of those teams didn’t get hurt more than others. It’s going to be interesting to see how things play out later in the season.


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