The regular referees finally are on their way back. But that doesn't change the fact that three weeks of action were governed by replacement officials, while the league and the refs were stuck in negotiations. Blown calls, marred endings and general confusion reigned during that stretch, begging the question: Will the 2012 NFL season forever have an asterisk on it because of the replacement refs? What will be the lasting effects of this saga?
Replacement refs won't even be a footnote in NFL history booksWe will need time to judge how history will view these 48 games officiated by the replacement officials. The most lasting impact of the replacement officials might be the Green Bay Packers' record at the end of the season. If the game they lost to the Seattle Seahawks affects their season in a negative way, it will take a while for Packers fans to forgive and forget.
I believe over a period of time these games will fade into history and not even be a footnote in the annals of the NFL. I think what we can learn from these past few weeks is that the rules of the NFL are very complicated and are going to be hard for a group of inexperienced officials to enforce. Hopefully when the next negotiations occur, both sides will find a middle ground and eliminate the possibility of this happening again.
But there is no guarantee we will not be back in this situation in eight years. So let's enjoy this period of labor piece while we can.
Regular season, playoffs, draft order: No doubt there will be an asteriskSadly, yes, there is asterisk on the season. The Seahawks grabbed a game they should not have won. What if they win the division by one game? What if they earn a tie-breaker because they have one extra conference win?
Far fetched? Not really. And it is the exact opposite for the Packers. They really won the game, but it doesn't count in the standings. Sad. What if it costs Green Bay a spot in the postseason?
That result impacts all 16 teams in the NFC. And eventually the draft order. So actually, it impacts everyone.
Only fitting for Packers, Seahawks to meet in postseasonOur memories are way too short for this entire season to have an asterisk on it. By Week 10, we'll barely remember that it ever happened. Except in two cities: Seattle and Green Bay.
The impact that Monday Night's Hail Massacre has on the NFC playoff race will be mentioned all season. It could push the Packers out of the playoffs or the Seahawks into the playoffs. If either of those scenarios happen, the talk won't die down. The only fitting conclusion is to get a Packers-Seahawks rematch in the playoffs.
Forget asterisks; players shouldn't use replacements as excuseThe 2012 NFL season will be remembered for the Seattle Seahawks' "immaculate inter-touchdown" on Monday Night Football, but it shouldn't be marked by an asterisk. You cannot erase history or performance simply based on tainted circumstances.
As players, we are taught by our coaches to never let exterior circumstances affect our focus. Just like playing in a torrential downpour, officiating should never affect a player's ability to perform. When Monday meetings come to break down film, you won't hear the coaches throwing a pity party because of the rain.
As my old defensive coordinator Rob Ryan used to tell me: No one gives a (use your imagination), so play hard!
Hard feelings will linger, especially if playoff field is impactedWhen a quick whistle by veteran referee Ed Hochuli allowed Denver a second chance to beat San Diego after a Jay Cutler fumble in 2008, Chargers fans (and some in the media) didn't let it go for the entire season. Luckily, San Diego barely beat out Denver for the AFC West title (both with 8-8 records) that season, so the missed call didn't impact the division's end result.
But if the Patriots, Packers or any other team slighted by overwhelmed replacement referees misses out on the postseason by a game or a tiebreaker? There will be some hard feelings, even though teams now have 13 games to determine their own fate with the regular officials on the field.
Fans will remember forever, but asterisk talk is overreactionMLB umpire Doug Eddings was working a game at Angel Stadium this season, and he received a loud, lusty jeer when his name was announced. It was the kind typically reserved for Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira. And this is seven years after Eddings blew an obvious call against the Angels in Game 2 of the ALCS.
Fans seem to have long memories about this stuff. Ed Hochuli probably can't get a fish taco in the Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego because of his blown call against the Chargers in Denver a few years ago. Don Denkinger is anonymous to 99 percent of the population, but mentioning his name might result in a fist fight in St. Louis. Do we even need to talk about Jon Gruden and the tuck rule?
The point is: Blown calls are a part of sports. And really, it's the fans of teams who hold on to them forever. So expect Packers fans to remember this poor officiating for a long time. But any talk about asterisks on this season is a little bit of an overreaction.