Monday Night Football: Replacement Officials Make the NFL Awfully Exciting

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Monday Night Football: Replacement Officials Make the NFL Awfully Exciting
Joe Nicholson-US PRESSWIRE

"Tragic."

That's how former Tampa Bay Bucaneers coach and current Monday Night Football announcer Jon Gruden described the final play of the Packers-Seahawks game.

As Golden Tate and company celebrated a game-winning touchdown, the oh-so-serious football community solemnly shook their heads in disgust.

"It's affected the NFL that we all love," Hall of Famer Steve Young said after the game on SportsCenter. "...The greatest game in the history of man."

"It's affecting the fabric of the game," Trent Dilfer added.

Poor Gruden was near tears. I haven't seen a broadcaster this upset since Walter Cronkite broke the news about the Kennedy assassination. He was so upset that he somehow made the ludicrous claim that the Packers' flight back to Green Bay from Seattle was "6,000 miles." Unless Green Bay is right next to Atlantis, that's probably not true.

Compared to the blogosphere, Gruden was the height of reasonableness. Twitter was aflame in the game's aftermath as well. It made the response to the Patriots-Ravens game Sunday night look calm and rationale by comparison.

This, the critics claimed, would be the spark that finally lit a fire under commissioner Roger Goodell; the botched call that would help bring back the "real" refs.

Man, I hope not.

Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE
Gruden was pretty upset.

These horribly incompetent referees may not always make the right call, but they sure know how to make a game exciting. Will it be old by Week 6? Possibly. At the moment though, this is a pretty special time to be a football fan.

Maybe this was the missing ingredient Vince McMahon needed to make a go of the XFL. The random officiating, even the remarkable way these officials somehow botch instant replay, means you never have any idea what to expect.

I don't remember a season with this many exciting finishes. The Monday night game was a classic, a game no one who watched it will ever forget.

The game Sunday evening was almost as good, a nail-biter that ended with the immortal Bill Belichick losing his cool.

As a player or coach, it would be absolutely exasperating.

As a fan? It's completely mesmerizing.

The chaos and unpredictability are so much fun. When you don't have a dog in the fight, when you are watching as a mostly unbiased spectator, it is a pretty cool way to enjoy a game.

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