Even before the incredible call that ended the Green Bay Packers' game against Seattle last night it had become obvious that we have all been mistaken over the years.
I never thought the referees were that important.
Oh, I knew that they made some mistakes now and then and there were cases that seemed to live in infamy. But when you got down to it the officials weren't all that important to the game.
We certainly know better now.
Even before that play these replacement officials had proven that they have the ability to just about kill the most popular sport on the planet.
Play after play. Flag after flag. Some right. Some wrong. But way too much. Way, way too much.
The National Football League has spent decades building a brand that is the envy of the world of sports. The league had parity and economic health. The reputation was squeaky clean.
But now the very integrity of this league has been hit hard. Very hard.
What this means is that the faith that the game will be decided by players on the field of battle has been shaken. These poor guys who are wearing the striped shirts now are trying. Obviously.
But with this incredible barrage of criticism has helped to create this monster where you get all kinds of weird calls. These officials obviously have developed a case of the jitters. They start each play with one hand on their flags and throw them if they even think they might have seen something.
The last call went against the Packers but these officials are not biased. They are just out of their league.
Don't blame them, though. Blame Roger Goodell and the NFL owners who want to certify their omnipotent power. Throughout these negotiations they have held stubbornly to their position, telling the officials that they had to cave in or the NFL would just move ahead without them.
But they've turned the game into a travesty. Watching that game was an exercise in trying to maintain control as all kinds of penalties were being called.
I think the game would be better off without any officials rather than having to put up with these crazy calls. Tell the players to regulate themselves and then let them have at it. They are men and they'd probably do pretty well.
Packers fans the world over are licking their wounds today and complaining about how the team was robbed. And that's true.
But more than losing a heartbreaking game, the contest last night was a deep gash in the smooth skin of the best league in the world.
And one more thing: If I was in charge of the NFL, I would make a ruling today that overturned the outcome of that game. I'd say that the Packers won. I know Seattle would bitch like crazy.
But this is a chance for the league to say "we do things the right way in the NFL."
With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.
He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.
This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as OnMilwaukee.com keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.
Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.