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Bears glad to have real NFL officials back

Bears defensive end Julius Peppers had his run-ins with replacement officials. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

Bears defensive end Julius Peppers had his run-ins with the replacement officials. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: October 29, 2012 7:02AM



The Bears endured some goofy moments but were virtually unscathed by the NFL’s use of replacement officials the first three weeks. In fact, they benefitted from bad calls that cost the Packers and Lions in recent losses.

But they’re still glad to have the real officials back.

‘‘I’m happy it’s over with,’’ wide receiver Brandon Marshall said when asked whether receivers or defensive backs benefitted the most from the replacement officials.

‘‘We get some of those guys back that we’re familiar with, and hopefully the game is a little cleaner.’’

The NFL’s lockout of its regular officials reached a crisis point when a last-second blown call marred the Packers-Seahawks game on ‘‘Monday Night Football.’’ Two days later, the NFL and the officials’ union reached an agreement that would allow the regular officials to work this week’s games. And even NFL commissioner Roger Goodell acknowledged the Packers-Seahawks debacle ‘‘might have pushed things along.’’

The Bears joined the rest of the NFL in applauding the agreement.

‘‘Getting those guys back is going to clean up the game,’’ quarterback Jay Cutler said. ‘‘The games are going to move along. The indecision is going to go away.’’

The impact of the replacement officials was so negative that Bears players were sincerely chagrined to have benefitted from the Packers’ 14-12 loss to the Seahawks.

‘‘The Packers lost; it’s good for us,’’ Bears center and captain Roberto Garza said somewhat sheepishly. ‘‘Luckily we don’t have to deal with that anymore.’’

Marshall said he felt sorry for the Packers.

‘‘I do,’’ he said. ‘‘It helps us out, but at the same time, those guys work really hard and put a lot into their preparation on and off the field. So to lose a game like that, that’s tough.

‘‘I’ve got some guys on that team [that] I went to college with and played with. But it’s the NFL, and we’ve got to move forward.”

Though he will be happy to have the regular officials back, Marshall didn’t denigrate the replacement officials.

‘‘I have a lot of compassion for those refs,’’ Marshall said. ‘‘You take guys like them and throw them in so quickly, everyone’s dogging them, and that’s tough. So I’m glad it’s over. But those guys did the best they could, and I appreciate that.’’

Garza said the players also will benefit by working with officials with whom they’re familiar.

‘‘You know the groups, you know what they call, what they don’t call, what you can get away with,’’ Garza said. ‘‘Fortunately, whoever calls the game, we have an understanding of what those guys let you get away with.’’

Coach Lovie Smith succinctly spoke for everybody in his post-practice news conference.

‘‘We’re excited about getting the regular officials back,’’ Smith said. ‘‘Life’s good in the NFL.’’



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