Gaining Perspective On The NFL Replacement Refs

Written by  Cedric Hopkins September 25, 2012
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I just read an article written by Yahoo!'s Michael Silver titled "The Worst Call in NFL History?" referring to the Monday Night Football botched call on the Golden Tate/M.D. Jennings catch/interception. I clicked on it because I thought Silver was going to splash cold water on the NFL community and actually discuss the worst calls in NFL history. Instead, he simply falls in line with the rest of the sheep and complains about the officiating.

Since Silver came up short, I decided to fill my pail with cold water.

I'm not here to say the Monday Night Football call was a good one. It wasn't. The Tate/Jennings call was incorrect. But by no means does it qualify as "the worst call in NFL history." 

Each season, there are plenty of calls just like the one from last night. 

I've compiled just a few of bad calls from last season:

If this explanation was done last week instead of last season, the announcers and fans wouldn't be joking about the referee, they'd be condemning him:


This bad call was from a Green Bay Packers/Chicago Bears (09/25/11) call where Johnny Knox returned a punt for a touchdown that was called back due to a holding call that was called on a player who wasn't even on the field. The Bears would've come within three points on the Knox touchdown with :51 remaining in the game.


Last year, fans were up-in-arms over the officiating because referees were calling pass interference or personal fouls on defenders in order to emphasize player safety. If you remember, the daily mantra from NFL players and fans was "this is a contact sport" not flag football, etc. etc.

Well, here's a personal foul call from a Seattle Seahawks/San Francisco 49ers game last season:


Those are just some of the normal botched calls that happened every week in the NFL last season. The one call that could perhaps be labeled "The Worst Call in NFL History" happened last season too. The referees' bad call in this game not only determined the outcome of a game, but decided which team went to the Super Bowl:

If the referees didn't blow that call, the San Francisco 49ers would've played in the Super Bowl. For some reason, Niners fans didn't have reason to riot after that blown call like the Packers fans do after Monday Night Football.

The 49ers/Giants call received little fan-fare. Had the "replacement refs" botched that play, it would've been headline news, just as the Monday Night Football Tate/Jennings catch is today. 

I know that my position is likely to be faced with complete rejection now that the mob has formed and people are trying to "one-up" each other over how bad the Monday Night Football Tate/Jennings call was. Just look at Silver's article where he validates a veteran NFL assistant's position that the Monday Night Football call was as bad as the Rodney King beating. Silver and that assistant have lost all perspective. 

The NFL referees—replacement and otherwise—have made bad calls. If the "normal" officials make it back onto the field, there will be plenty of bad calls from them too. Calls like the one last night have always happened, and will continue to happen as long as the game is played.


Cedric Hopkins

Cedric Hopkins Bio

Cedric Hopkins runs this sports law/fantasy football blog. If you have issues with it, it's all his fault. Cedric was an athlete-student at the University of New Mexico (Basketball - Go Lobos!). He then morphed into a student-athlete when he attended law school in San Diego. Age replaced athleticism and now he writes appellate briefs for criminals (alleged criminals, of course) in state and federal cases, including writing U.S. Supreme Court briefs.

For years Cedric has researched and written about legal issues but maintained a love for sports. With, he's combining his two passions: researching and writing about sports. When he's not in court arguing a case before a judge (or writing about himself in the third person), he'll be doing the same with his articles on Follow me, er, him on Twitter (opens in a new window).

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