It was the blown call heard 'round the world. Or at least heard 'round Twitter last night shortly after midnight when the social media service almost broke with four letter words delivered to the referees after the Green Bay Packers "loss" to the Seattle Seahawks.
By now I imagine most people have seen (or at least heard about) the blown call. The NFL's experiment with these replacement referees is no longer funny. While the bad calls might've been amusing or merely cringe worthy in the pre-season, we're in regular season play now. Unfortunately the damage has already been done.
Even though we're only three weeks in, we've had at least one game decided on by a bogus call (the New England Patriots' loss to the Baltimore Ravens could be in this category too). Regardless of what happens with the rest of this season, the entire thing is now null and whoever winds up winning will have a big ole asterick next to their name.
This isn't to say it is the replacement referees fault. It isn't. They just simply aren't qualified to do the job they're doing. It would be like putting a taxi driver in a Formula 1 race car. They know the basics of what they're supposed to do, but they would be completely out of their element. This is especially true when you consider the report from the Lingerie Football League saying several of the replacement refs were fired because they were "incompetent." So these referees were not good enough for the LFL, but they're good enough for the NFL? That is absolutely ridiculous.
The rumble of discontent from the fans, players, and coaches has erupted into a full-blown roar and unless Commissioner Roger Goodell, the team owners, and the referees sit down and don't leave until an agreement is reached the NFL could see a permanent scar on it.
I'm a huge fan who is in four separate Fantasy Football leagues this year (Full Disclosure: I'm blaming my dismal performance this week in all four of them on the replacement refs) and find myself almost unable to watch this boondoggle. The joy I get from spending my Sunday watching football has almost been replaced with sheer revulsion at having to watch terrible call after terrible call.
This isn't an episode of Punk'd. This is a multi-million dollar a year industry and the "real" referees and Goodell owe it to the fans who make their salaries possible to sit down and hash this out. The longer they wait the more discontented the fan base gets. The absolute last thing we need is a call like last night's to happen in a city like Philadelphia or Oakland, both known for their sometimes volatile fanbases, where real damage or riots could occur.
In week three, on coach's challenges, 80 percent of the referee's calls were overturned. We saw the most penalty first downs in game in NFL history. And we saw at least one game that was decided by blatantly bad calls. When will enough be enough?
According to the NFL Players Association Executive Committee, the NFL and the referees are apparently apart by just $60,000 per team. That's it? I'm sure most teams can make that up in beer sales during just one half of their games.
This can't continue, and we as fans shouldn't put up with it. As entertaining as watching the replacement refs screw up call after call is, we have to take it upon ourselves to say enough is enough and we have no desire to watch this garbage anymore.
The damage to the first three weeks of play has already been done. Let's end this lockout now before the whole season is ruled to be a sham.