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9/27/2012
Try harder

The temptation proved irresistible: Everyone from the President of the United States to a guy standing outside of Lambeau Field with a placard has commented on it; why not us?

We speak, of course, of the just-concluded NFL replacement referee fiasco.

The issue — part-time referees are being locked out by National Football League management over a contract dispute — came to a deliciously explosive head on national television during Monday Night Football. Though it might have been a difficult call on the ground, even for a seasoned referee, the last play of the game between host Seattle Seahawks and visitor Green Bay Packers was decisive. The ref decided the Seahawks made a touchdown on a long pass, though most of us who watched it know they didn’t.

The replacement ref decided it wrong, according to —oh, everybody. We admit to sneaking into a back room in this very office to watch the game’s final 18 seconds (footballese for “a million minutes”).

Now Green Bay fans (and Green Bay players and coaches and ... oh, again, everybody) are complaining that a game must not be decided by a bad call. Bring back the real refs!

Well, now, little Cheeseheads, let’s pause for a moment to reflect.

What if —just for the sake of discussion, mind you, and not because we want to pick on Green?Bay — what if, in the first half of Monday’s game, the Packers had protected their quarterback? Aaron Rodgers was sacked (knocked to the ground before passing) eight times in the first half of the game. (Not that we were keeping track, and certainly not gleefully.) Maybe he would have thrown the football to a receiver, who perhaps could have run it into the end zone for points. Maybe a receiver could even have been standing in the end zone, and caught the ball right there, and made points that way. There are a lot of possibilities.

Then, at the end of the game, when the Seahawks threw a Hail Mary pass, even if the referee got it wrong (and guess what? Regular refs, we have been told, also make mistakes. Apparently every single person involved in football is human and there is some margin of error involved when you let people run around doing things), it would not have mattered. Green Bay would have played better up until then, and had enough points that the Seahawks’ mistaken 7 at game’s end would have been exciting, but not significant.

Ref, schmef. In football as in life: Do your job as well as you can, and, if you fail, don’t blame one guy for one mistake in one moment — especially in a game that lasts about three and a half hours. That’s just cheesy.