The real referees have returned, and all were greeted with applause across the NFL this weekend. Until they started making calls. The honeymoon is already over, especially for Giants and Packers fans. Missed calls, game-changing penalties, in other words: human beings being human.
The real refs are experts at game management. They know the rulebook better than those who wrote it. They can still make mistakes, though.
The reaction of some NFL fans to the real refs reminds me of something. You go out with a girl, she's a good woman, but after a while she kind of wears thin on you. Things just don't click. So you break-up with her. Then you go out with someone completely wrong for you, some C word who flirts with your friends and gets really loud and honest when she drinks, and in retrospect you're ex-girlfriend seems like a goddess. Then you and your ex reunite, you expect perfection, and reality disappoints.
These refs make mistakes. There are 22 moving pieces on a football field, and a handful of officials out there to enforce 122 pages of intricate rules. Let's not get too irate at them for not living up to our unrealistic expectations of flawlessness.
So instead of falling back in love with the zebras, maybe we should just be friends and see where that goes. They're not without fault, they make mistakes, but the alternative is much, much worse.