The refs suck.
And so is everybody else.
Not just in the NFL, but in every other league in every other sport.
Every fan is a Saints fan.
When the Jazz played the Blazers on Monday night, the missed-calls count — for both teams — went into double digits. Same as it ever was. Same as it ever is. League officials in many sports review this stuff on the reg, and they know it’s true.
So, when referees blow important calls in the course of important games, what is the solution?
The most obvious one is really two: 1) go on loving the games as though blown calls don’t happen, and 2) get better refs, so they happen less often.
If games have to be perfectly officiated for them to be enjoyable, we’re all screwed … because they never will be.
There are people — most of them in New Orleans, but many others, too — who are so disgusted by what occurred near the end of the NFC championship game between the Rams and the Saints, they are calling for the game to be replayed. A petition to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell calling for such action has already been signed by a quarter-million people.
Under NFL rules, it could happen — the commissioner can call for the game to be replayed if he thinks something “extraordinarily unfair” occurred — but it won’t.
You saw the injustice — a pass interference non-call that should have all but iced the game for the Saints and sent them to the Super Bowl. Instead, the Rams, kissed by bad officiating and good fortune, came back to win a game they had no business winning.
Is that extraordinarily unfair?
All sorts of folks from Bourbon Street to Main Street and back not only think so, but have been complaining not just about that one blown call, but also trying to come up with ways to fix the unfixable.
Some want fallible judgment calls to be reviewable. Some want everything to be reviewable, even if it slows games down more than they currently are. Some want cameras to correct what human eyes get wrong. Some want a second look at what the first one missed. Some want technology to take over for clumsy humans in striped shirts. Some want what happened to the Saints on Sunday never to happen again.
It will, though.
The reality is, the games have always been broken. Usually not to this degree, in such an obvious way, but during potentially significant plays throughout all kinds of games.
In football, in basketball, in baseball, in hockey, in soccer, in … everything.
Replay reviews have helped — and they’ve hurt. College football has come to a point of excess. It is now a game of frequent interruption, so often under further review. Calls that were once wrong are now …
Hold on a minute.
Not all of them, but some.
Still, all calls cannot be reviewed and reversed.
Big brother’s eyes in the sky will never replace the guys with the whistles, nor should they.
I have no idea how the referees missed that pass interference call on the Rams’ Nickell Robey-Coleman, who all but beheaded the Saints’ TommyLee Lewis. Had they properly thrown the flag, it would have set Drew Brees and his offense up to run down the clock and score.
Brees was classy about the blown call, saying his team had plenty of other chances to score more, to taste victory. And besides, how many other missed calls happened to the Rams’ disadvantage in the first, second, third and fourth quarters?
None of those, though, were as blatant as The Non-Call.
Instant replay made it worse. How many times have you seen that play?
Five, 10, 15, 20 times? It seems like a thousand.
To NFL headquarters, it must feel like a million.
The point here is, there is no real way to make it right. Short of using robots with lasers for eyes, the only real choice is to accept the fact that mistakes in officiating are simply a part of the game, all games. And quite frankly, if there actually were technology available to replace human referees in all sports, technology that made every call correct, it likely would drive fans out of their minds.
Every holding call made, every indiscretion of every kind flagged, every violation noted and penalized … would lead to an unwatchable game. In all sports. There is a place for human judgment, for saying “no harm, no foul,” for letting things that don’t matter slide.
The problem is, sometimes those things do matter. Sunday’s pass interference did. The Rams will go to Atlanta now, not the Saints, to face the Patriots. That’s the price paid for football games we can happily consume.
Sure, it’s frustrating when things go wrong. But there’s no way every injustice can be made just, not without the games being transformed into five-hour-committee meetings. People don’t drop $1,000 for a pair of seats to a town hall gathering. They won’t spend half a day watching replay reviews.
Feel bad for the Saints. Feel bad for Brees. Feel bad for New Orleans. Feel bad for football.
But don’t try to reinvent officiating, don’t throw human referees out of games that are human at their core, don’t call for technology to review every play.
Just get better referees, increase their training and their pay if that is what it takes to lure in better eyes and minds.
Mistakes won’t disappear completely. But neither will the fans.
GORDON MONSON hosts “The Big Show” with Jake Scott weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 97.5 FM and 1280 AM The Zone.