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Ruling on last play of ‘MNF’ casts replacement refs, NFL in bad light

Updated: October 27, 2012 6:24AM



The real NFL referees are bad enough. If you can’t remember a screwed-up call against your favorite team, then you don’t have a favorite team.

But now this.

The photo of one replacement ref signaling touchdown while another signals who knows what — Interception? End of game? Completion? — during the final play of the Packers-Seahawks game Monday night shouts ‘‘Bad!’’ to the heavens.

The final call — the wrong one, most sane people agree — gave the Seahawks a touchdown and a 14-12 victory. The obvious offensive pass interference by alleged touchdown-catching receiver Golden Tate . . . well, we won’t even get into that non-call.

Back to the end of that game. There was confusion all around. Then there was rampant, we-stole-your-wallet joy from Seattle fans celebrating in their home stadium as the wrong call was upheld. Then there was pure disgust from Packers players. Within minutes, Packers guard T.J. Lang had tweeted: ‘‘[Bleep] it NFL. Fine me and use the money to pay the regular refs.’’

Oh, he will be fined.

Even when he was calmer Tuesday, Lang said he didn’t regret what he had tweeted, just the use of profanity. His frustration and helplessness were summed up with this: ‘‘Any player/coach in Seattle that really thinks they won that game has zero integrity as a man and should be embarrassed.’’

It’s an understandable anger on his part, but it’s misdirected. The Seahawks are guiltless here. They can’t give back a game commissioner Roger Goodell has declared over.

The NFL ‘‘supports the decision not to overturn the on-field ruling following the instant-replay review,’’ a statement from the league said. ‘‘ . . . The result of the game is final.’’

So who thought we needed real refs? None of us. Because we thought making calls was a pretty simple thing to do. And as long as the zebras didn’t affect the outcome of games or the health of the players, who cared the striking guys only were asking for reasonable pay increases and protections? We would get our NFL fix, and the heck with fairness.

Plus, you’d think there would be lots of settlement room between workers who wanted an 8 percent pay increase and a wildly profitable league offering only 2½ percent. How about 6 percent and call it a day?

Real NFL refs make around $6,000 per game, a paltry amount for officials who can keep a team out of the playoffs with blown or unblown whistles.

And how about the Sunday night game? Crazy-bad calls and non-calls for and against the Patriots and Ravens were the norm. There was a final field goal, which might or might not have been good, that gave the Ravens a 31-30 victory. Both Ravens coach John Harbaugh and Patriots coach Bill Belichick nearly had strokes during the game, and Belichick even charged a ref at the end and grabbed him in outrage.

Is this what we want? Scab refs from Division III leagues and even, God help us, the Lingerie League?

I’m not kidding.

And not only former Lingerie League refs, but fired ones, too. Seriously. Men let go because they were incompetent when it came to deciding whether it was a bra-grabbing violation or not.

So games have been ruined by frauds. That’s not good for a multibillion-dollar league.

The next thing will be a player being seriously injured because of referee ignorance. There already have been uncalled helmet-to-helmet hits, dirty play, nastiness and, yes, a general favoritism for the home team.

Think it has to do with the cheering? I do. If that call Monday had been made in Green Bay, I think there might have been a riot. Making it in Seattle was easy but wrong.

Moreover, the players are in their own union. If they decide it’s unsafe to work under these conditions, they could strike and might have OSHA laws on their side, the ones that say holding out is legal if ‘‘an undue hazard to the health and safety of [an employee]’’ exists.

The Thursday night game on NFL Network, with the Browns visiting the Ravens, might get ugly. Nobody respects these scab refs anymore, and Goodell is playing with dynamite if he is going to stand firm and keep the real refs locked out.

If it blows up — if people are injured or workers and fans revolt — he has no one to blame but himself and his rich cronies.



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