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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Real Refs (10.2.12)

After three weeks of substandard NFL football, how was your football viewing experience throughout Week 4?

Think about it for a minute, go ahead and ruminate.

You may struggle to find a single word that can encapsulate your experience, but you probably have a positive impression. 

Your team may have lost, but at least you can believe in the integrity of the game. That counts for something you know, it really does. 

Isn't it interesting that the NFL came to terms with the NFLRA within 48 hours of the Green Bay-Seattle fiasco?  It's almost as if the NFL never thought that unqualified replacement referees could impact an actual game. How naive. How irresponsible. How dishonest.

Honestly, I figured the NFL would dig in following the "Fail Mary." I didn't expect a deal to get done, because I figured the NFL accounted for a situation such as this. When analyzing the pros and cons of their decision to lockout the officials, how could the NFL not examine the worst case scenario? I'm sure the "Innacurate Reception," another great nickname, represented what the NFL deemed the worst case scenario, and I figured the NFL had already decided that such an outcome would be the assumed collateral throughout the labor negotiations.

However, it seems like the power of public backlash lit a fire upon the NFL to come to terms with the NFLRA. Ode to the power of public scorn. After three weeks of marring an extraordinary product with incompetency that produced WWE type results, the NFL came to its senses and reached a deal with the NFLRA. 

Unfortunately, it seems like this deal could have been reached all along. In fact, it seems like the NFL lost the battle on this negotiation and instead settled for far less than they were demanding. The NFL conceded to a revised pension plan and offered up a raise, and the officials conceded the implementation of developing new officials. Seems to make sense, right? Unfortunately, for the first three weeks of the season, the NFL played hardball, and it ended up costing them. Oh, and don't forget, this hardball tactic cost teams victories, produced various fines for coaches and players, put players in perilous situations, and severely impacted the product for the fans. 

With a deal in place, I think we can all agree that Week 4 of the NFL was much more enjoyable to watch than Weeks 1-3. The lunacy of the first three weeks may have been interesting to watch for some, but there's no doubt that it cast a dark shadow over the league. 

With NFL officials actually garnering cheers this past week, it sure was nice to see them back on the field. Integrity restored. Madness withdrawn. The NFL cares again... finally.

Simply put, Thursday, Sunday, and Monday were smooth. Can you think of a better term? Whatever it is, it definitely contains positive connotations, and that's all that matters. 

There were a few minor hiccups, especially when the Green Bay Packers, the catalysts that led to the end of the NFLRA lockout, came up on the wrong side of a call when Darren Sproles of the New Orleans Saints clearly fumbled a kickoff return midway through the fourth quarter that was instead ruled down by contact. Fortunately, the Packers were able to hold on and win the game. If they had lost, I have a feeling that the officials would have been blasted mercilessly. 

The Sunday night game also featured some questionable calls, namely the late pass interference calls on both the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants. 

However, as a whole, the referees stayed in the background, and that's where they belong. Did you see any headlines that led with the officials? I didn't, and that's exactly how it should be.

Let's just be thankful for "The Real Refs." No more ten minute delays. No more misplaced ball spots. No more unruly scrums and brawls. No more deliberations after routine plays. No more laughable calls that lead to numerous challenges and overturns. No more extra challenges. No more extra timeouts. No more incompetency.

The real officials may blow a call here and there, but I think we can all agree that their presence is necessary, and beneficial. The NFL product is just that much better with them ruling the game. The tempo is much more even, the calls are more accurate, and the integrity of the NFL is no longer considered questionable.

Welcome back NFL officials, we've missed you.

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