The initial reaction to the NFL agreeing to terms with the regular referees felt a bit like the ball dropping on New Year's Eve. So long, everything we hated about the past—the new year is finally ready to begin, albeit four weeks late.
As the news settles in and the excitement over something so ridiculous subsides, what we, as fans of the game, are left with is still an enormous list of things that might go wrong when the regular referees return.
Let's not kid ourselves that the regular referees—though markedly better than the overmatched scabs the NFL tried to pass as competent rule enforcers during the lockout—still make mistakes. The regular referees are also joining the season already in progress, without the benefit of a preseason, so it's anyone's guess how long it will take them to get into game shape and up to speed with the pace of play.
In short, fans should still expect blown calls. These guys aren't robots.
Maybe they should be robots. We joke in Major League Baseball every time an umpire misses a call that robot umpires would make things so much better, so why not give NFL referees every scientific advantage possible—short of making them into actual, sentient robots.
Here are seven rules the NFL should put in place right now (during this season, if possible) to allow the NFL and its fresh-off-the-couch referees every advantage those of us at home get by watching on TV. If the real goal of the NFL is to get every call right, there is no way the league, the NFLPA or the referees should have any issue with these changes.
You brought back better referees, NFL. Now help them do the job better, too.