By Kerry J. Byrne
Cold, Hard Football Facts Replacement Publisher

The NFL gambled on replacement officials this year.

The NFL crapped out in dramatic fashion on Monday Night Football. The Seattle Seahawks beat the Green Bay Packers 14-12 thanks to a game defensive effort (8 first-half sacks) and one of the ugliest finishes in NFL history.

By now you know how it went down: Seahawks rookie QB Russell Wilson heaved the ball into the end zone at the end of regulation. Receiver Golden Tate blatantly shoved a defender out of the way, then lost the fight for the ball to defender M.D. Jennings.

Two replacement officials stood over the scrum and looked in each other’s eyes: one called a touchback. The other called a touchdown.

It was the most bizarre scene in and odd game that seems to confirm what millions of fans suspect: that the standards of the once-proud "Shield" are distingetrating before our very eyes.

Replay officials confirmed the touchdown call, even as the eyes of America seemed to agree that Jennings had intercepted the ball.

The night turned surreal when a few members of each team trudged back out of the locker room, the Packers pulling helmets out of a storage box, to execute a meaningless extra point.

CHFF follower Brooksie (@viperico) Tweeted out this meme at the end of the game. Pretty much says it all.


The NFL now has a major cluster-f*ck on its hands. The Packers lost a game they probably should have won and are now a game out of first place in what’s shaping up to be a tough NFC North.

More importantly, the NFL looks like a joke. Friend of the Facts, WEEI radio host and cartoonist Larry Johnson (@ljcartoons) tweeted out his summary of the fiasco this morning.

It's time for Roger Goodell to admit defeat and back down in his standoff with the "real" officials or step down as NFL commissioner.

He works only at the pleasure of NFL owners. He is their representative. So clearly, NFL owners are complicit: sacrificing the sanctity of the game built over 91 seasons to save a few bucks on third-rate officials.

But Goodell clearly messed this one up. It’s part of a bad year, too, for the vengeful Gridiron Godfather.

First, he badly overreacted to the Bounty-Gate controversy, all but handing one of the 32 teams in his charge the equivalent of a death penalty. The New Orleans Saints, neutered as a legit NFL team and playing an entire seaosn without a head coach, are 0-3 this year after going 13-3 last year.

Innocent people are suffering as a result and a team has had its competitive edge sawed off by a leader with the gruesome tact of a Civil War field surgeon.

The replacement officials, meanwhile, are now a national joke. "Replacement" has entered the national lexicon for anything that's second rate.

Got a bad meal? Blame the "replacement chefs."

Frightening taxi ride through New York City? Must be the "replacement cabbies."

The fiasco came to a head during the primetime games in Week 3. Fans in Baltimore Sunday night spent much of the fourth quarter loudly chanting “Bullshit! Bullshit! Bullshit” – their displeasure with officials echoing across living rooms and barrooms from coast to coast.

"It's the loudest manure chant I've ever heard," said announcer Al Michaels.

And the Ravens WON that game. Then came the Monday night disaster in Seattle.

The two marquee games of Week 3, each one a bigger embarrassment than the next.

ESPN analysts and former NFL quarterbacks Trent Dilfer and Steve Young appeared almost in tears at the end of the Packers-Seahawks game.

“The NFL has always said we will do anything, anything to project the shield,” said Dilfer. “It’s ironic that you, the NFL, are what is screwing the brand up right now.”

Goodell was handed the Golden Cow of pro sports leagues when he became commissioner in 2006. It was considered a league above reproach, a reputation built for more than 90 years by legends such as Joe Carr, Bert Bell, Pete Rozelle and Paul Tagliabue

Goodell has not lived up to their standards. He’s ruled like an iron-fisted gangster, whacking anybody who dares cross him or the NFL, almost to the point of being irrational. There's a reason we call him the Gridiron Godfather.

But now he’s the one who needs to be axed, at least if he and the NFL insist on making a mockery of the beloved national sport, the sport he’s supposed to protect.

But maybe it's par for the course in America these days: the nation has seemed to sacrifice standards in every walk of life over the past generation or so.

Maybe we're just getting what we deserve out of the NFL: a second-rate outfit where standards no longer matter. Let's just do what feels right and all tune in to watch the soap opera unfold each Sunday.