Playoff Picture: Remember Referee-Gate

5 teams take the field on Sunday with a chance to play their way into the playoffs. Furthermore, seeding and home field advantage are still on the line in both leagues. With such close races for the playoffs, it is easy to look back on the season on wins that could have been, blown calls, or terrible mistakes that cost a team victories. Hindsight is always 20/20. However there is one moment that deserves discussion while the playoff picture is still unclear: Seahawks v Packers and the replacement referees.

All NFL fans remember the play that cost the Packers a victory and the gave the Seahawks one they did not deserve, but people seem to have forgotten that this debacle happened this season. It seems like a long time ago, but yes the replacement referee disaster was this season. As much as hind sight is 20/20, you cannot rewrite the past and claim to know how the present might be different. Had the Packers gotten the win that fateful night, the entire season would have played out differently. The two teams momentum would have changed the season no doubt would have been different. But just for fun, let us suspend disbelief and look at this situation as if we can just take one Win and one Lose and switch them for the Packers and the Seahawks.

1. Most notably, the Seahawks would not have clinched a playoff spot yet and they would be playing for a wild card spot just like the Vikings, Redskins, Bears, Cowboys, and Giants.

2. The Packers would have already clinched home field advantage.

3. The Packers play the Vikings this week who need a win to get in the playoffs. If the Packers had home field advantage there is a relatively good chance they would rest their stars.

4. Seattle can still get a first round by, which would not be possible with the extra loss.

5. San Francisco would have already clinched the division.

6. All the teams fighting for a wild card spot would have much better odds to make the playoffs.

When remembering that play and the fallout afterward and now looking at how much that one call will affect this season, fans should be angry. However, that anger is useless unless directed at someone or something. Roger Goodell appears as an easy scapegoat to blame when it comes the the replacement referees, but that is too easy. Goodell is an employee of the owners and he answers to them. So if you have anger about this situation it is best directed at each individual owner, who as a whole are responsible for the referee lock out. That anger only serves the purpose of realizing how the NFL operatives.

The owners allowed for grossly under-qualified referees officiate games that counted in the NFL. Those referees are responsible for a call that will play a role in determining which teams make the playoffs. There are few ways to harm the integrity of the game or the league worse than altering which teams have a chance to win the Super Bowl. When Goodell and the owners talk about protecting the integrity of the game, keep in mind that this sentiment only goes as far as it will not cost them money. The officials union claim that all of their demands cost the NFL $3.2 million annually. The NFL and the player’s union negotiated over how to divide $9 billion in revenue. When you think of the NFL owners in the future, remember, that they risked and sullied the integrity of the NFL for $3.2 million out of a $9 billion revenue.

[New York Times]