It’s the end of the world as we know it.
The absolute end of days.
The apocalypse is upon us — ushered in right there, in no other place than the end zone at CenturyLink Field, on Monday night, presided over by … replacement refs, guys who would have been working the Oberlin-Widener game had the NFL not locked out its real officials and sent in the clowns.
Listen carefully and you can hear old Dandy Don singing, “Turn out the lights, the party’s over.”
Where have you gone, Ed Hochuli?
Man, just when you think you’ve seen it all, you see more.
Packers and Seahawks bunching together in the house … Golden Tate pushing off … a Hail Mary flying in … M.D. Jennings intercepting the ball … Tate reaching around … one replacement ref signaling an interception … another replacement ref signaling a touchdown … confusion breaking out all over the field … Pete Carroll being interviewed before the game is over … players being hauled out of the locker room to finish the thing out … and then … disbelief and disappointment and disgust that a call could be blown that badly.
And that the Seahawks could wrestle a win away from the Packers in such a comedy of errors, right there for everyone to see, including you, Roger Goodell.
Shame on the NFL for treating its game with such disregard and disrespect, and for what? A couple of extra bucks? An ego trip? A power play? You just chuck the integrity of the game into the hands of a group of Division III refs who are decent guys but overmatched in their role as replacements to the point where the wrong teams are being declared winners?
Crack open the rule book and read it with me: “If a pass is caught simultaneously by two eligible opponents, and both players retain it, the ball belongs to the passers. It is not a simultaneous catch if a player gains control first and an opponent subsequently gains joint control.”
That last part is exactly what happened at the end of the world … er, game on Monday night. Jennings caught the ball first, and then Tate gained his control. The Packers should have won. The replacements blew it … right there on national television.
It happened just the way the NFL Referees Association had dreamed it would. Locked out and sitting at home, waiting for league officers to do them better at the bargaining table, the refs figured, and gambled, that the replacements would screw things up and that the NFL would be embarrassed by its stupidity in letting it get to this ridiculous point.
Check and check.
And here’s the best part of all, the real sign that the end is near: Not only did people actually find themselves feeling sorry for Bill Belichick — say, what? — on Sunday, but by Monday night, the real referees had gained all kinds of newfound respect and admiration — from players, fans and coaches everywhere. Yeah, they’re not perfect. They do occasionally screw up. But not like this. Not to this degree. Their jobs are difficult, and they do them better than anyone else.
So, now, what are we seeing?
A call from anyone who has any kind of care factor for pro football for the NFL to get the authentics back where they should be — on the field, keeping order, making the right calls, saving the game.
We’re seeing what we never thought we’d see … the real refs and NFL players holding hands … fans embracing the real refs like long lost heroes … coaches demanding the return of the real refs … the foundation of football depending on a quicker resolution to the real refs’ labor problems.
At this juncture, it matters little how reasonable or unreasonable the referees union has been in its demands. The absence of its members has turned too many games into awful hilarity. They’ve never been more highly thought of than they are today.
No picture proved that more than the one on Monday night of official No. 84 and official No. 26 standing directly in front of one another in the end zone, one signaling an interception — which meant a Green Bay victory — and the other a touchdown — which meant a Seattle victory. No. 26 won out and, after an erroneous review, the Seahawks were given the win.
In that moment, everyone felt something they’d never felt before — an odd fondness and appreciation for the regular refs, the morons they used to boo. All hands hoisted a toast to Ed Hochuli, wherever he is.
And the apocalypse began.
GORDON MONSON hosts “The Big Show” weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 1280 AM and 97.5 FM The Zone. Twitter: @GordonMonson.