The year was 2011 and NFL officials ruled the land.
Admired and envied by millions, these were not just ordinary men. They were kings. They presided over our Sunday afternoons with precision, accuracy, and a touch of playful humor. They were good. VERY good. Having spent the previous 92 years officiating NFL games with a 100% success rate, this fraternity was envied, cherished, and upheld as the shining example of all that is right and good in America, if not the world. Was it only a year ago that an NFL official could walk into any bar in the country and absolutely OWN the place?
Man, those were the days. Oh wait, those days never happened?
The events that transpired on Monday night in Seattle were, no doubt, embarrassing and regrettable, but to paraphrase ESPN’s Matthew Berry, “the hate has gone too far.” We’ve reached that point where the social outrage is starting to parody itself and people are screaming because they can.
The reaction following “Fail Mary” seen in press conferences, interviews, and especially Twitter was not your average NFL postgame criticism of the refs. There is a large part of me that believes the unprecedented furor from players, coaches, fans, and even athletes from other sports took place because it’s now, finally, socially acceptable to verbally annihilate NFL officials in an open forum.
The “real” officials have blown their fair share of calls in the past, and while those calls may not have directly impacted the score by actually taking place on the final play of the game, they certainly impacted the end result, as Bills fans well know. I’m sorry? A blown call by the real officials has impacted the final play of the game? Wow, how’d I forget that?
So, let’s please stop acting as if everything will be just fine once we get the real officials back. The same men who inspired talk of a fix following Super Bowl XL, bottle-throwing incidents in Cleveland and massive confusion over something as elementary as a coin flip are not going to make everything better. Jeff Triplette and Ed Hochuli are not going to be the saviors that assist the NFL in returning to its rightful place as a shining example of on-field integrity.
It’s true that the locked-out refs have more experience and are better trained to ideally make the correct call, but one thing they do have in common with the replacement refs is the fact that they are human. Mistakes are made. (A lot of them, in case I haven’t driven that point home yet.) Both sets of officials have made egregious errors and brutal calls, and once the lockout is over, the real officials will continue to do so.
By the way, it’s Patriots Week and Brian Moorman got released. Crazy, right?