Our long national nightmare is just about over. The NFL is reportedly close to a deal with the referees union and the plan is to have the real officials back on the field by this weekend. Sorry Jim Harbaugh, you’ll have to operate with 3 time outs per half from now on. And no Packer fans this doesn’t mean they’re going to replay your game against the Seahawks using real officials. You’ll have to live with being 1-2. In last place. Behind the Vikings.
So what does the return of the real refs mean from a game play perspective? Hopefully the immediate result will be more consistent calling of pass interference, illegal contact and things of that nature. That seemed to be where the refs struggled the most. A lot of players have said that defensive backs are getting away with more pushing and that might be affecting some pass offenses. Maybe with that cleaned up the Vikings’ receivers will start getting open?
Second, we should see much less of the chippiness that has been creeping into games. Several games including the Patriots-Ravens contest Sunday night nearly degenerated into rumbles simply because the replacement refs didn’t have the guts to step in and throw flags or even toss people out. Players obviously didn’t respect the scab refs and started getting away with a lot of after-the-play action. In a couple instances players even laid hands on the replacement refs. Don’t try that stuff with Ed Hochuli.
Maybe most importantly of all, with the real refs out there we won’t have to worry about anymore farcical scenes like the one we saw late between the 49ers and Vikings. The way Jim Harbaugh played the dumb refs for extra time outs was really disgraceful. Blown calls you can live with but flat-out not knowing the rules isn’t acceptable. The real refs may not be perfect but they at least know the rulebook. For the most part.