So now that the regular referees are back with the NFL, there'll never be another bad call and no one will ever boo a zebra again, right?
Sorry buddy, I already own one bridge in Brooklyn. As Brian Goff points out at The Sports Economist site, regular referees have blown calls many times, sometimes just as badly as the replacement referees were supposed to have done. We don't have instant replay and coach's challenges because we all want to review what a great call the ref made, after all. Goff notes that a bad call from 2011 gave the Green Bay Packers a win just as surely as last week's awful call robbed them of one.
Blown calls and official mistakes are part of every game that includes fallible human beings. "Instant replay" makes me chuckle because the idea is that those fallible human beings will eliminate or severely reduce mistakes now that they have the chance to see the same play in stop-motion or from a different angle. Of course they will reverse some mistakes. But sometimes they won't be able to tell anything new from the video and they still have to make a human judgment about what they saw. And sometimes what was the right call may get reversed because the new angles or slow-mo view will show something that looks like it happened but didn't.
Because blown calls are a part of every game, it's not really accurate to say that this mistake or that mistake "cost the team the game." It's the team's job to take the game out of the referee's hands. Yes, the referee made a mistake on a call. And the defender made a mistake on the coverage. And the halfback made a mistake when he cut left instead of right. And the quarterback made a mistake when he threw into coverage. And so on.
And yes, before those of you who remember that I am a Kansas City Royals fan start carping, I have no problem agreeing that Don Denkinger blew the call at first base in Game Six of the 1985 World Series. But it was in Game Six -- the World Series goes seven games and as Denkinger himself noted, if the St. Louis Cardinals had batted better than .120 through the first six games they wouldn't have needed a Game Six, let alone Game Seven.
So cheer the return of the regular refs. Despite being the lowest-paid guys on the field, soon enough they'll take the blame and the boos for being more responsible for losses than the millionaires who surround them.