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Fueled by Frustration, NFL Reaches Deal with Refs

The score was 12-7 Green Bay Packers late in the fourth quarter on Monday Night Football. The Seattle Seahawks were putting up a valiant effort all game, feeding off of their home crowd and chasing Aaron Rodgers all over the field. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson let go of his final pass of the night, a majestic spiral that traveled over 40 yards in the air.

Unfortunately for him, the toss was heading toward a group of five Packers defenders, with only two Seahawks receivers in sight. Seahawks receiver Golden Tate pushed the Packers defender in front of him, and leapt in the air, only to see Packers defensive back Tim Jennings haul the ball in for an interception. Tate continued to fight for the ball, however, and although he only had his fingertips on the ball, managed to wrestle Jennings to the ground with the ball still in Jennings’ possession.

The “referee” facing the back to the crowd signals a time stoppage, indicating the game is over. As he does this, another “referee” at almost the same time signals touchdown, overturning the first’s call and giving the Seahawks an improbable victory and the Packers a crushing defeat. The replay shows the same thing everyone else sees, an interception, but to no avail. The call stands.

TJ Lang, the Packers offensive guard said it best on his Twitter account after the game.

“Got $#@% by the refs.. Embarrassing. Thanks NFL.”

He’s right. After three weeks, hundreds of bad calls, and millions of fans watching in disbelief, the replacement refs were, as Lang so eloquently put it, embarrassing.

The epitome of the word.

The only question I have is how does a billion dollar organization not have the most qualified officials possible on the field?

And better yet, how did Roger Goodell and the National Football League figure out their mistake weeks after I did?

Better late than never is the phrase that comes to mind.

My God, are those Ed Hochuli’s guns?

The NFL referees are back! No more phantom pass interference calls, no more weird hand signals and long delays and most importantly, no more head referees stumbling through calls more awkwardly than a college freshman during a PowerPoint presentation.

The best part is, now we all get to complain about the regular referees. Look, nobody’s perfect, but what is lost in all this is that although the replacement referees underachieved during their tenure, there have been countless times that the fully qualified referees have made calls just as head-scratching.

The Tom Brady “tuck rule”, Ed Hochuli’s debacle of an incomplete pass call on Jay Cutler, and last year’s week one Calvin Johnson touchdown catch that turned out not to be all come to mind.

What we should all strive for is the day this year when we forget this even happened, when the referees become a non-story and we forget they’re even there (unless you’re a Packers fan).

Let’s just hope the replacement referees can get their jobs at Footlocker back now.

Shawn Ferris can be reached at shawn.ferris@spartans.ut.edu

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