Bob Bestler | Referee strike needed some perspective control

On the LooseSeptember 28, 2012 

As I watched the country go nuts over a football game this week, I didn't know whether to cry or to laugh.

I would cry because my beloved Green Bay Packers had just gotten the bad end of a bad call by bad referees.

As time expired Monday night, a hail mary pass by Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was picked off in the end zone by Greg Jennings of the Packers, but a Seahawk also had his hands on the ball, After a long delay, the referees gave the ball and the winning touchdown to the Seahawks. Wah -- a off to bed.

But I would laugh because it seemed to place an entire nation on the side of those same Packers, a team I have always revered, with apologies to Dallas Cowboy fans, as America's Real Team.

America, after all, is made up of thousands of small towns, not a handful of urban behomoths, and Green Bay is by far the smallest town in the National Football League.

I laughed, too, because for a few days following the Monday night fiasco, the nation seemed to come together --against those poor, untrained, inexperienced replacement refs.

Not since we first heard of Osama Bin Laden have we been so united in outrage.

“We've gotta get our refs back,'' said President Obama.

“I'd sure like to see some experienced referees,'' said Mitt Romney.

“Give me a break,'' said Paul Ryan, a Wisconsinite and the only bonafide Packer fan among them.

About the only person not looking back was Packer coach Mike McCarthy, who on Tuesday refused to dwell on the referees and shrugged off the suggestion that the Packers had been victimized by a terrible call.

“We're not the victim,'' he said. “Nothing is guaranteed to you. The game of football is not perfect. That's why you play the whole game and one team walks off as the winner.''

McCarthy's words should have reminded us that this was, after all, just a football game -- a game, people, to everyone except the millionaire players and owners, and the then-locked out referees.

Some bloggers seemed to think getting rid of the replacement refs was so critical to the nation's well-being that maybe the president should step in and help settle the dispute between the NFL and its real referees.

Obama didn't respond, but as a players' strike loomed last year, he made it clear he would do nothing.

“I'm a big football fan,'' he said then, “but I also think that for an industry making $9 billion a year in revenue, they can figure out how to divide it up sensibly.''

They figured it out then and they finally figured it out now.

Three days after the Green Bay-Seattle debacle, the old refs were back on the field.

And the world moved on. Thankfully.


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