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Return of the NFL referees

Alex Geli
Sports Writer

It all started with the catchthat- wasn’t-really-a-catch heard ‘round the world.
Who could forget? On the last Monday night of September at CenturyLink Field, week three of the young NFL season was wrapping up with a tight game between the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers. The score was 12-7 in the Packers’ favor with only a last-ditched effort by the Seahawks offense on a 4th and 10 at Green bay’s 24-yard line separating them from their win.
On that play, Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson dropped back and heaved a hail mary towards the end zone. After wide receiver Brandon Tate seemingly pushed off of his defender, he sprung off the ground and barely got one hand on the football compared to Green Bay cornerback M.D. Jennings’ two. The referee closest to the play signaled
an interception and a touchback, therefore ending the game, but another replacement referee disagreed and pointed his hands towards the sky, calling a touchdown for the Seahawks. After ten minutes of review and deliberation, the ruling was a touchdown, lifting Seattle past the 2010 Super Bowl champions, 14-10.
Commence Twitter outburst…
“What robbery… what a fraud the NFL just perpetrated on the Green Bay Packers.” – ESPN columnist Michael Wilbon (@RealMikeWilbon)
“Come on @NFL this s*** is getting out of control. Caused us a D*** game. Horrible!” – Packers tight end Jermichael Finley (@JermichaelF88)
“I love this league and love the game of football, but tonight’s debacle hurts me greatly. This is NOT the league we’re supposed to represent.” – New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees
“Was this game a Buffalo Wild Wing commercial?!?! #MNF” – ESPN analyst Damien Woody (@damienwoody)
“All @nfl fans watch the Ryder Cup this week, we got no refs. #USA” – Golfer Bubba Watson
“I simply just LOVE the NFL to(o) much to see these mistakes. I’m sick like I just played for the Packers” – Miami Heat forward LeBron James (@KingJames)
“I would love to see what my reaction would be if a Mavs game ended like #MNF. #Expensive #NBAtime” – Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban (@mcuban)
Not only was the Twitter universe infuriated, but Millersville students were just as adamant about the events that took place that Monday night. For example, Dean Royal, a sophomore majoring in business and sports management, had plenty to say.
“That was a disgrace,” Royal, said, “It was horrible… horrible!”
Even current US president Barack Obama weighed in and labeled the game-changing call “terrible.”
The NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, and the real officials realized what all the hooting and hollering was about, as they hurried their pace in their negotiations to bring the officials’ lockout to an end.
“The negotiations were sped up because of that ‘Monday Night Football’ game,” junior Mike Pelitta, who was happy with the repercussions that came after the apex of the replacement referee fiasco occurred in Seattle, said.
Through all the financial hoopla and contract loopholes, the NFL and NFLRA (National Football League Referee Association), completed a deal and had the muscles of Ed Hochuli – an official who did push-ups to celebrate the end of the lockout, according to NFL.com’s Jeff Darlington – out, suited in their new Nike black-and-white striped uniforms and equipped with their handy-dandy whistle, a swift three days later for the start of week four.
For the first time in NFL history, fans were happy to see the referees on the field that Thursday night, and harmony was restored between the harrowing fans and America’s most popular sport.
In a poll done around Millersville’s campus of more than 100 students, 92 percent agreed with the audience who gave the referees a standing ovation as they returned, saying that the ensuing impact that followed throughout the rest of week 4’s games with the real referees back was a positive one. In fact, 17 percent of that was consisted of people who boycotted watching football because of the poor quality that resonated from the replacement refs’ calls and delaying of games.
“I’m glad to see them back,” Josh Ceschini, a psychology major in his first year, said. “I could tell the pace of the game has gotten a lot faster.” Ceschini also sensed the urgency of the NFL as they switched their negotiations into full-gear after the ultimate miscue by the replacement Foot Locker employee look-a-likes. “After the whole Packers-Seahawks thing, I’m pretty sure the NFL was like, ‘We need to make a deal.’”
Junior Mike Major was another of many who had a smile on his face when he saw that a deal had been finalized according to the likes of ESPN’s Chris Mortensen and Adam Shefter on late Wednesday evening.
“As a viewer, it’s relieving that they’re back,” he said about the returning officials. “(We) don’t have to worry about errors.” Everybody knows that referees don’t get 100 percent of calls 100 percent correct, but most Millersville students agree on one thing: they’d rather see the real referees make those imperfect calls rather than the in-overtheir-heads replacements.
“They’re not going to be perfect,” senior John Sarastinuk said, but agreeing with Major that “they’re not going to make nearly as many mistakes.”
A more extreme view was held by Ash Kemp, a junior majoring in business. “They weren’t up to the task,” he said. “It was above their pay-grade.”
Whether or not the replacement referees were caught with their tails between their legs or were worrying more about their fantasy team than getting their calls correct, Millersville agrees that having the real referees back from their lockout is a good thing – except for a slim few.
Besides the 92 percent of Millersville students surveyed that enjoy seeing Hochuli and his gang back, 8 percent decided that refs are refs, no matter whether the words, “real” or “replacement,” are before their jobtitle.
Tyler Barton, a senior at Millersville, was a part of that 8 percent. “Regardless whether they’re replacements or not, refs are going to make bad calls.”
The most telling results of the poll, though, weren’t the hefty amount of people that were in favor of the officials’ return; they weren’t even the less than 1/10th of Millersville students that didn’t see a difference in the games post-replacements; it was the amount of people that voted for the slot, “I want the replacements back!”
It would be music to Roger Goodell’s ears if he heard that absolutely no students of Marauder-nation thought his efforts on sealing a contract with the seasoned officials resulted in a negative viewing experience in the coming weeks.
Thankfully for the League’s commissioner, everyone seems to be at ease… for now. It’ll only be a matter of time until the same scream-filled, arm-flailing reactions from fans when they see that dreaded yellow flag thrown in their favorite team’s direction are returned to its rightful owners.
Just like a poster in the same stands that gave the fresh and ready-to-go veteran referees a roar of cheers read: “Finally! We get to yell at real refs! Welcome back!”