A rookie is a rookie, even if ref

mlough@macon.comSeptember 26, 2012 

Day in and day out, I’m a defender of referees and the umpires.

It’s actually fairly easy to do it. Were that more people got their jobs right as often as sports officials do, how much better things would be.

Understanding the job of, say, an NFL official shouldn’t be hard, considering the number of calls, potential calls and necessary judgment on every play.

Throw in 22 physical specimens of massively different sizes and speeds, as well as the fact that the defense knows its play and the offense knows its play, and the refs know none of that. And they have to watch their area and the whole field and do that on the field, not in the stands or from the camera angle.

Through the first few weeks of the NFL season, it remained easy to defend even the replacement refs for logical reasons.

For one, it was their first weeks on the job -- excluding the internship-like preseason games -- that they suddenly got in the middle of the summer. For another, they were replacing in most cases longtime veterans who were able to do so much on instinct rather than having to process and think and then act because, well, they were longtime veterans.

Nevertheless, Monday night’s Seattle-Green Bay game was a little much, more so for the missing of Golden Tate’s NBA-like pushoff than the botching of the interception/touchdown. To me, that was the killer, as well as the straw that broke so many camels’ backs.

Somewhere in this mess, Bud Selig is high-fiving people with, “Yeah, that dang All-Star game tie ain’t so horrible after all.”

And there’s no truth to the report that Bill Belichick called the ref he chased down Sunday night and apologized with, “Sorry I grabbed ya, dog.”

Frankly, if most people watched a game with the volume down and knew more than nine percent of the rule book, they’d think the replacements didn’t do badly, for the reasons just noted. The games were a little longer, which is understandable because, yes, it was their first, second and third day on the job compared to the fourth, 12th and 19th year for those they replaced.

It’s a safe bet that the newbies didn’t make that many calls -- after three full days on the job -- that the vets wouldn’t have made. But thanks to the yappers on the tube watching from a completely different -- and substantially better -- angle and then in super slow-mo, every perceived or actual mistake is completely exaggerated.

And the more people bellyached, the worse it seemed.

But the replacements’ percentage was better than quarterback’s completion percentages. The refs’ bad passes just stood out a little bit more.

This just in: No official had anything to do with Aaron Rodgers getting sacked eight times in the first half and very little with the Packers scoring all of 12 points.

Then there’s the grumbling about the lockout itself, which is a completely different topic.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of mouths with bad tastes, and the knuckle-draggers will harass or threaten anybody silly enough to admit they were a replacement ref.

Fortunately, imperfect humans being imperfect humans accelerated the process that will now bring the experience back on the field, returning life to normal.

And oh, how they’ll be embraced, because absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Until the first holding or helmet-to-helmet call or missed interference. That fondness lasts less than a quarter.

Contact Michael A. Lough at 744-4626 or mlough@macon.com

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