Thank god the real refs are coming back to the NFL. Um, I mean, thank commissioner Roger Goodell and the owners for their benevolence, wisdom and humility in accepting the referees’ stringent demands so that the strike could end.
What’s that? The owners locked out the refs over $3.3 million a year? And it severely crippled the credibility of the league thanks to incompetent replacement refs, some of whom weren’t qualified to officiate in the Lingerie Football League?
Oh, that’s actually pretty terrible.
On second thought, screw the owners and Goodell for causing a nationwide shitstorm that made watching football feel more like a chore than an enjoyable activity.
The refs have to be the bad guys, no matter who they are. But, at the end of the day, the players have to respect them, and the fans have to begrudgingly accept that 95 percent of the calls are the correct ones.
But good news, everyone! Three weeks of terrible officiating may have sent the nation's most popular sports league to the verge of a fan/player/coach revolution, but now we have 14 weeks of the old, good refs back at the helm.
It’s kind of funny how beloved the refs became during the lockout. If you'd asked the average fan to rate the refs before the season, a passing grade would be hard to come by. But what these replacement refs showed us is that it takes a special caliber of refs to make the NFL run smoothly.
So, Thursday night in Baltimore, when the Ravens take on the Browns, the old refs will be on the field. And they will be welcomed back by fans and players with adoration, appreciation and respect. Up until the first pass interference is called that puts the Browns in the red zone.
Then they will probably be booed, yelled at and accused of being blind.
That’s okay, though, because that’s how the NFL works. The refs have to be the bad guys, no matter who they are. But, at the end of the day, the players have to respect them, and the fans have to begrudgingly accept that 95 percent of the calls are the correct ones.
Football has 22 moving parts that are colliding and weaving simultaneously, and we trust six people to police every part of it and get it right every time. And if they don't — or we think they don't — we kill them on Twitter and Facebook and forums.
Reffing NFL games is an exercise in futility. But we might as well have the strongest Sisyphusses out there, so when the fans deign to loose the boulder back down the hill and wish the worst on the refs, we can also trust them to begin the push again, more determined than ever to do their job the best that they can. It makes the league better that way.
Now, come Monday night when the Cowboys take on Chicago, we can trust that there won't be the same debacle that happened this Monday. If somebody loses on a last-second play, it will be because that team didn't do enough to win — not because of the refs.