Monday night. September 24, 2012. The night the NFL teetered closer to the edge, about to fall down to the level of its little brother, the NBA.
Games decided by bang-bang plays that hinge on the split-second judgment of a ref? Check. A pattern of poorly-called plays that tarnish the credibility of an entire sport? Checkmate.
Today, the world clamors for the NFL to right the wrong. Bring in better referees! You can't ruin our sport with these jackasses!
But let's not forget that the play in question unfolded in a matter of milliseconds, the time between the Packer defender first touching the ball and the Seahawk receiver getting his hands in there too (the judgment was 'simultaneous catch, advantage offense'). Multiple slow-mo replays made it look so obvious, but in that millisecond from the side angle was it that clear? Of course not.
It was a bang, bang play that required the referee's total concentration and perfect viewing angle in that millisecond that the questionable part of the play unfolded. Was it a catch for a touchdown, or was it an interception? The side judge saw a dark jersey closest to the ball. The back judge saw all white. Both ran over and saw two guys struggling for the same ball. Seahawks fans, while thanking whatever they call their maker, applauded the call. Packers fans and nearly all of us neutral fans saw a bad touchdown call that should have been overturned.
Welcome to the NFL, replacement refs.
And while I'm at it, welcome all you NFL fans to the world of the NBA!
How many NBA games are decided on the split-second judgement of one referee in the final seconds of a close game? Was it a block, or was it a charge? Was it goaltending, or a clean blocked shot? Was the defender in the restricted area or not? Did the shooter release the shot before time ran out or not?
Fans of every NBA team can tick off a handful of games last year decided on a bang-bang call. Some were in the favor of their team. Some were not.
Take that bang-bang play called by the NFL ref on Monday night, then multiply it by a hundred and now you've got an NBA game. Every play is a split-second call, and before you know it the ball is going back down the other end. Get it wrong, and you're a goat. Get it right, and you're just doing your job.
The replacement NFL referees are definitely in over their heads. Just like it is for NBA refs, the game is too fast for these refs. They can't pick up on the extracurricular stuff fast enough to stop it, or call it correctly. Downfield hand-checking by the DBs and WRs getting ignored. Holding by linemen in the trenches goes uncalled or unnoticed. Late hits on the QB, illegal if inside the tackle box but okay otherwise. And when contact IS called, it seems like its a flip of the coin which side gets the flag.
Just too fast. Too much going on for the replacement NFL refs right now.
Just like the NBA. Sure the NBA guys are vets, but in the NBA its bang-bang play after bang-bang play for two straight hours.
Tough gigs, all around.