Replacement referees don’t belong in the NFL … or WWE

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September 25, 2012

CM Punk, Paul Heyman and WWE referee

On the final play of "Monday Night Football," with only eight seconds on the clock and the Seattle Seahawks trailing the Green Bay Packers, 12-7, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson chucked a 24-yard Hail Mary pass into a free-for-all in the end zone. Wide receiver Golden Tate shoved a defender in the back with both hands, eliminating an opponent to fight him for the ball while creating the possibility of a clear path to it as well.

Tate and Green Bay safety M.D. Jennings then both got their hands on the ball, though the Packers and almost everyone watching the game, insisted Jennings had clear possession for a game-ending interception.

Instead, after conflicting signals from two officials, the replacement referees ruled on the field that Tate and Jennings had simultaneous possession, which counts as a reception and a win for Seattle (a situation almost identical to the double pinfall of WWE Champion CM Punk and John Cena that occurred at Night of Champions). (DETAILS) To his credit, seasoned WWE official Chad Patton made the right call as he has thousands of times throughout his 10 years with WWE.

Conversely, the following night on Raw, a referee that would have remained anonymous had he not blown a call in the tag team main event, counted CM Punk’s shoulders to the mat, not seeing that Punk had managed to drape his foot across the bottom rope before the count of three, enraging the WWE Champion. (MORE)

On Monday’s Raw, at the insistence of Paul Heyman and Punk, young Brad Maddox introduced himself on live television as a new referee, hired by Raw General Manager AJ Lee after Raw expanded to three hours. Heyman presented the young official with a sleep mask featuring WWE’s logo over one eye and the NFL emblem covering the other; a harbinger of the NFL officiating disaster that would occur only a few hours later. (PHOTOS)

The parallel outcries about officiating changed trajectories and collided in the early hours on Twitter as NFL fans and ESPN journalists caused the name of WWE Chairman, Vince McMahon, and WWE’s epic football failure, the XFL, to trend worldwide while comparing the two situations.

The fact of the matter is, only seasoned referees should be on the main stages of an NFL field or a WWE ring. If one needs further proof that proper officiating is the product of experience, one need only to look back at last year’s SummerSlam.

WWE found itself in the unprecedented position of having two WWE Champions in Punk and Cena. As should be the case, WWE COO Triple H decreed that the two would meet in the ring to crown one undisputed champion. The Game was so set on ending the controversy that he assigned himself as special guest referee … and then blew the final call of the match.

That’s right, Triple H — a 16-year WWE veteran, eight-time WWE Champion, five-time World Heavyweight Champion and WWE executive — made the same mistake that rookie referee Maddox made last week: He counted down Cena’s shoulders despite the fact that he managed to drape his foot across the bottom rope before the count of three.

When it comes to being an NFL or WWE referee, “zebras” are not born with their stripes. They must earn them.

VOTE NOW: Which blown referee call was worse?

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