The end of Monday’s Packers/Seahawks game was unlike anything I had ever seen in sports. Aside from being a great finish, it was everyone’s biggest fear with the replacement refs coming to a head. It also yielded 2 of the most must-see sports hours in recent memory. Sportscenter received a 4.5 rating (it’s highest rating in 17 years) at midnight on a Monday night and they only talked about one play. Everyone craved post game comments, reaction and needed to share in the unbelievable finish that had just occurred. It also really felt like anything could be said by the players after that game.
Twitter was an entirely different outlet that became must-see in the 2 hours following the outcome of the game. I watched the game by myself, but after reading twitter, I had already heard the opinions of an entire nation. From bad gambling beats to snarky replacement refs jokes to clever memes and images that summed up the evening’s events.
The replacement era was a disaster and although they were doing the best they could, it was not good enough. The league was going down a bad path – an unsustainable path that was doing the impossible and making the NFL not that fun to watch. Everything was exposed Monday night (also on Sunday night as some questionable calls prompted the loudest “bullshit” chants I’ve ever heard) and the problem needed to be solved immediately.
I will miss the replacement ref era because it was entertaining but I’m also grateful that the games will be back to normal and the outcomes will be decided by the players. The chaos surrounding the replacement refs and the clear lack of control they had on the field did make the NFL feel like the WWE or possibly what Vince McMahon envisioned for the XFL – and that was entertaining. In the end though, I’d rather be entertained by the players and outcomes of games and not by the refs. This week when I watch football, for a second or two, I will miss the “on-edge, anything can happen” feeling the replacement refs brought. Then when I see the games back under control and players focused solely on their responsibilities, I’ll remember what makes the NFL so great in the first place.