As a direct result of a very bad weekend for the replacement referees, the NFL and referee’s union got serious about their negotiations and came to a tentative agreement Wednesday evening. Regular refs were back on the field for last night’s game between the Ravens and Browns.

The replacement officials were not cutting the mustard, making hay or any other agriculture harvest-related quirk I can come up with. They were, however, cooking with gasoline when it came to making questionable calls or no calls at all.

Monday evening’s “Madness in Seattle” topped off the weekend of questionable calls. A hail Mary thrown by Seattle was caught by 1 1/2 players. A Green Bay player had most of the possession and a Seattle player had one arm over the ball. A touchdown was called by one referee and a touch back by another. It took nearly 10 minutes to sort it all out before finally ruling it as a touchdown, giving Seattle the victory.

I have mixed emotions about the call. It appears that the Green Bay player had possession and yet it was called a touchdown for Seattle. While I don’t agree with the call I am OK with the results.

Also, for the second week in a row, they granted time outs to teams that had no time outs left. This was actually a smart move for the requesting team. Even though they had no time outs left, after calling for one, it took officials up to five minutes to figure out they didn’t have a time out to take. By then, everyone caught their breath and new strategies were in place, just like a regular time out. It was practically a genius move.

While the replacement refs were a mess, let’s not forget that regular refs have never been perfect either. They have been blowing calls for years. According to, Jay Leno once joked that he wanted to be a referee when he was younger, but he had 20-20 vision so he had to give it up.

One of the more famous blown calls was the 1998 Thanksgiving game between the Detroit Lions and Pittsburgh Steelers. The game was going into over-time and referee Phil Luckett was in charge of the coin toss. Pittsburgh’s Jerome Bettis clearly called tails and when the coin came up tails Luchett awarded the ball to Detroit. Detroit drove the field and kicked a 42-yard field goal to win the game.

Blown calls in sporting events are nothing new and the biggest difference between the replacement refs and regular refs will be less frequent bad calls. Now that the regular refs are back the pressure will be on them to make every call perfect. As soon as they blow one the fans will be saying they cannot tell the difference between these refs and the replacement refs. Will the real refs please stand up?

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