That was an absolutely horrible call at the end of that game, and the confusion between the two referees is evidence that these guys are struggling. That said, 2 things:
- In all of these games, there have been terrible calls that have gone both ways. The Pack had at least one terrible botched call that sustained their only TD-producing drive. I was at the Ravens game and there were awful calls on both sides. Even with the "good" referees, there are terrible calls. (Seahawks got cheated out of a Super Bowl with those guys a few years ago, remember?) These refs stink, as well we might expect, and the product is suffering greatly. But to blame the refs solely for any loss, ever, is silly. You're the Green Bay fucking Packers, you're playing a rookie quarterback who completed, what, 10 passes? You have Aaron Rogers, you should have put a few points on the board.
- The referees' union is escaping far too much blame here. Sure, the NFL should have had this straightened out, but the refs are party to the negotiation, too. I'm not sure where the "few million" number comes from (I think it was NorCal that noted it?) but as I understand it the sticking point is that the part-time refs who make hundreds of thousands of dollars apiece for a part-time gig want a defined-benefit pension plan without having to contribute to it. That does sound like more than a few mil to me, though of course details are very, very thin. Frankly, to me, their position sounds pretty absurd. While at some level I can't blame them for pushing their leverage as hard as they can, they are not shouldering nearly enough blame in the public opinion. Remember, the reason we have D3 and LFL and AFL refs out there instead of D1-A guys who normally call LSU games is because the NFLRA (if that's the right acronym), which runs the scheduling for all the D1 leagues, told those guys that their careers were over if they crossed the lines. So they're holding a whole bunch of really good refs, the vast majority of whom will never ref an NFL game anyways, hostage in the jobs they have won. Sure, the NFL is the boss, and they ultimately have to take responsibility for the product on the field... but the NFLRA aren't saints either.