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.
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