The NFL rumor mill is swirling with tales of an impending deal that would bring the regular refs back. It got us thinking about the changes such a sudden shift would make to the league.
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter:
As @mortreport is reporting, an agreement between NFL and NFLRA is at hand and both sides will work to have officials working this weekend.- Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 26, 2012
Before you get too excited, NFL Network's Albert Breer cautions us with this:
Asked NFLRA source about idea that deal is done -- "Absolutely false" ... But they're getting closer, have made plenty of progress.- Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) September 26, 2012
Still, it seems like the two sides are moving in the right direction. The deal can't get done soon enough, as far as I'm concerned.
When it does, things are going to change in a hurry.
You've heard of "bad cop, good cop," right?
After three weeks of the hell that is replacement referees, players, coaches and fans are desperate for anything that resembles decent officiating.
When the regular guys come back, the players and coaches are likely to treat them with an added amount of respect, and we'll experience a period of nirvana in the NFL.
Peace on Earth, and goodwill to all men.
Officials are supposed to confer with one another—and huddles are an appropriate means of doing so—but what we've seen from the replacement refs has been an absolute disgrace to huddles everywhere.
Nothing's actually getting done in them. It seems like more often than not, one of the league's sideline representatives has been forced to intervene.
The regular officials don't have the same hangups about not knowing the rules as these guys and know how to get to the bottom of a group conference in short order.
Sure, they'll have to slow things down once in a while to make sure they are all on the same page, but at least when they all come together, they'll have some understanding of what just went down.
Games will take less time and teams will finally be able to get into a good rhythm on the field.
It's a win-win.
Anyone who saw this hit on Darrius Heyward-Bey knows that the refs should have called an unnecessary roughness penalty for helmet-to-helmet contact on a defenseless player.
Heyward-Bey was sent to the hospital with a severe concussion and neck injury (h/t MercuryNews.com), but no flag was thrown.
Defenders have gotten increasingly more bold in the passing game knowing the speed of the game was too great for these replacement refs to keep up with. As a result, player safety has been compromised.
Rest assured, when the regular refs come back, players won't get away with this kind of thing in the games.
One of the most annoying things we've seen from these replacement refs is their tendency to call illegal contact in the passing game.
It's their go-to call when they don't know what happened, but are pretty sure something did.
The regular refs know the difference between defensive holding, illegal contact and pass interference, and when they return, some level of sanity will return with them.
Players have taken advantage of the replacement refs on numerous occasions, fighting amongst one another in ways they normally wouldn't do with the regular refs on the field.
Not to say they don't fight with the normal guys officiating the games, but they don't do it nearly as much.
The fight between DeSean Jackson and Cary Williams is another clear example why the players don't have any respect for the refs. Both men punched one another but weren't ejected from the game.
The players have much more respect for the official officials, and once they return, fighting on the field will simmer down significantly.
Sure, regular refs get calls wrong, but most of the time there's at least a modicum of consistency to their work. Players can adjust to the way officials call each game and there's some balance to the world.
With these replacement refs, you never know what the heck they'll do next. What was perfectly fine the play before could be called a penalty on the next play.
When the regular guys get back, the overall level of insanity will recede, and coaches and players will know what to expect again.
After the honeymoon phase is over, and after all the aforementioned changes have had a few weeks to percolate, things are going to get back to normal.
Coaches and players will get back to berating the regular refs just like they are doing right now with the replacements, except they'll have more respect for them than ever before.
It's going to be glorious.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78