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Commentary: Referees not perfect, mistakes happen

Referees have never been perfect — they are not perfect now, and they never will be. The nature of the job lends itself to occasional mistakes.

Especially at full speed, how is an individual expected to get every single call correct? At the end of the day, they simply cannot.

The New England Patriots lost to the Carolina Panthers, 24-20, Monday after what is being referred to as a “questionable” call on the game’s final play.

Considering the media reaction, I am slightly surprised the entire state of Massachusetts has not broken into a full-fledged riot. Not only did starting quarterback Tom Brady track down the officials after the play to complain, but his backup Ryan Mallett tried to get in on the action as well.

When you see players, especially one as well respected around the league as Brady, complaining like that, one can only imagine the words coming out of the mouths of fans that watched the game.

Patriots fans should be thankful they are not Green Bay Packers fans. During the infamous replacement ref period of the 2012 NFL season, the Packers lost to the Seattle Seahawks Sept. 24, 2012, after fill-ins awarded Seattle a touchdown on the game’s final play. Not only should the ruling have been an interception in favor of the Packers, but the refs also missed an indisputable pass interference call.

Every team, athlete and fan has found themselves on the “wrong” side of a “poor” call at some point. It is part of the game, not something that should be welcomed, but must be accepted.

At the end of the 2002-03 football season, Ohio State won the National Championship after a late flag saved the Buckeyes’ lives and gave them another chance. The Miami Hurricanes were already celebrating when the yellow speck flew across the screen, signaling Glenn Sharpe for pass interference against Chris Gamble in the end zone.

You can find Hurricanes fans complaining to this day, but the call happened, the game eventually ended, and OSU won. Still, almost 11 years later complaints can be heard, but that was a championship game, not a random regular season game moving their record to 7-3, which is now where the Patriots’ sit.

New England fans have to take some perspective when looking at the call — it was questionable, not wrong. The call could have easily gone either way, and there is no way to prove the Patriots would have won the game had they received a favorable decision.

Much worse things have happened in sports.

In 1990 Colorado received a fifth down, allowing them to beat Missouri 33-31. At the 1972 Olympics, the Soviet basketball team was magically awarded extra time, leading to the United States’ first loss in the sport’s Olympic history.

At the end of the day, the call in Monday’s Patriots-Panthers game might have been wrong, but it happened. The complaints need to end, especially since the game is mostly insignificant.

Questionable calls are a part of sport, and they will be forever. While that is not a good thing, it has to be accepted. Repeated complaints do no good for anyone and simply act as an annoyance to the outside world.

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