Outta’ Right Field: Replacements can’t give teams do-overs

By Kevin Durso
September 25, 2012

Referees signal different calls after Monday night’s game-ending play. It was finally ruled a touchdown, giving the Seahawks a 14-12 win to defeat the Green Bay Packers at CenturyLink Field on Monday, September 24, 2012, in Seattle, Washington. (John Lok / Seattle Times / MCT)

In front of a national television audience on Monday Night Football, two officials observed a pile-up in the endzone as time expired on the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers game. They both looked at each other. One started to hesitantly make the signal for interception. The other signaled touchdown.

The pass from Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson had moments before sailed toward the endzone and into a sea of hands. In the end, it was ruled the ball was in the hands of wide receiver Golden Tate. Replays showed otherwise.

This was by far the culmination of the first three weeks of the NFL season where the spotlight was not on the players but on the officials.

The sports world has had its fair share of labor struggles in the past few years. In the past year, the NFL threatened to cancel games, the NHL entered another lockout which is threatening the entire 2012-13 preseason and the NBA endured a shortened season.

This lockout is different. The games go on. But without the usual, quality officials the NFL has come to know over the years, not everything is fair.

If there’s one thing I love about sports, it’s the human element. It can be rewarding. It can be exasperating. But it can make for some great entertainment and great controversy. Never was that more true than on Monday night.

For as much talk as this game will get for the next week, when does the problem here really get resolved? Replacement officials cost the Packers a game this season. What if they were to miss the playoffs by that one game?

The one thing about replacements is that whatever they call is what stands. On Monday night, the officials didn’t make the correct call on the field, and still had a chance to correct it with replay. They didn’t.

Roger Goddell thinks he may be keeping the game going strong by using replacement officials. And he is, because as a business, the NFL thrives.

But in situations where you can’t get another play to change the outcome, the last people on the field who should be deciding games are officials. They did on Monday night.

Kevin Durso

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