There are plenty of miscalculations in history that haven't yielded utter disasters. Some have even proven fortuitous. For one, the famed Leaning Tower of Pisa is far more renowned for its off-kilter stance than for its Romanesque style. In that case, the failure to properly ascertain the stability of the construction site ultimately provided the structure its most famous -- and profitable, in terms of tourist revenue -- attribute.
The NFL's decision to lockout the union refs and turn over the whistles to replacement refs will not be remembered as such a beneficial misstep. This will be recalled more like the DeLorean (in terms of retail sales rather than time travel) or New Coke -- a total misreading of the marketplace. While the NFL may not have planned on selling us replacement refs forever, they seemed to think that they could pass off this empty callorie substitute without anyone noticing the difference. It didn't quite work out that way.
Aiming to freeze the pensions of the union officials and dictate the terms of a future deal, the NFL locked out its experienced officials before the preseason began. From miscounted yards and spare timeouts to that Golden Tate touchdown as time expired on the most recent episode of "Monday Night Football", the lockout did not go as planned for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the franchise owners.
The soft alluvial soil of Pisa turned out to be a far firmer foundation than whatever base of inexperience these scab refs were building their nascent NFL careers upon. Of course, folks did turn out to gawk at the mistakes of the 'mats just as they do to see the leaning tower. These refs were so good at generating attention that Stephen Colbert declared them good for the league's bottom line. President Obama, NFL Fans and members of the Green Bay Packers did not seem to feel the same.
Despite the ratings boon of specatuluar disasters like the most recent edition of "Monday Night Football," the drop in competency was marked and far more visible than the NFL seemed to anticipate.
"It's just so obvious that people couldn't be replaced and get the same result," said Ken Margolies, a senior associate at the Worker Institute at Cornell University.
As we welcome back the real refs, let's take one last look at some of best worst calls -- and most memorable reactions to those calls -- during the replacements' reign of error. Which was your favorite? Which was the worst? Let us know if we're missing any key missed calls.
Missed Call On Golden Tate
Foul Reporting Fail
Phantom Pass Interference Call
Wrong City, Ref
Missed Pass Interference Call
Back To The Camera Fail
Wrong Side Mix Up
Two Footballs On The Field
Steven Jackson's Missed Touchdown
49ers Get Extra Timeout
'Excuse Me For A Moment'
Ogeltree Slips On Hat
Touchdown or Interception?
Fantasy Football Ref
Too Much To Handle
Replacement refs were visibly overwhelmed when a scuffle broke out between players during a game against the Houston Texans and the Denver Broncos. Officials struggled to restrain players, and one referee was even on the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/17/replacement-refs-monday-night-football-falcons-nfl_n_1892281.html?utm_hp_ref=nfl" target="_hplink">receiving end of a blow</a>.
Missed Helmet-To-Helmet Hit
Too Many Yards
Replacement refs awarded too march yardage when Jake Locker passed to Craig Stevens, who was hit with helmet-to-helmet contact by Lions linebacker Stephen Tulloch in OT. Officials mistakenly marked the penalty from <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/24/nfl-replacement-referees-bill-belichick-week-3_n_1909850.html?utm_hp_ref=nfl" target="_hplink">the wrong spot</a>.
Biased Ref Removed
Fox was assessed a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty when he attempted to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/02/replacement-referees-nfl-season-concerns_n_1850501.html?utm_hp_ref=nfl" target="_hplink">challenge a fumble</a> recovery by the 49ers.
Coin Toss Mix-Up
During a preseason game between the New Orleans Saints and Arizona Cardinals, the refs announced the result of the coin flip incorrectly.
After arguing with the referees who incorrectly ruled a 10-second runoff, Redskins' Kyle Shanahan was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. The ball was <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/24/kyle-shanahan-replacement-ref-tunnel-redskins_n_1909935.html?utm_hp_ref=nfl" target="_hplink">incorrectly placed</a> 25 yards back, when it should have only been 20.
Offensive Pass Interference
In Week 2 against the Eagles, Jacoby Jones was flagged for <a href="http://scores.espn.go.com/nfl/playbyplay?gameId=320916021&period=0" target="_hplink">offensive pass interference</a> on a 25-yard touchdown catch, which was widely <a href="http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/blog/mike-freeman/20208318/week-2-referees-horrible-week-for-the-replacements" target="_hplink">considered a horrible call. </a>
Week 1 Extra Timeout
In Week 1, the replacement officials mistakenly gave Seattle an extra timeout in the final minute. Fortunately for them, Arizona still won. <a href="http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap1000000060267/article/refs-timeout-ruling-in-seahawkscards-game-wrong" target="_hplink">The officials admitted their mistake</a>