It was only one game, but it appears the NFL world isn't going to come crashing down under the weight of replacement officials after all.
Former officials, current and past coaches and players had led us to believe the worst. Yet, the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants made it through the NFL opener Wednesday with little complaint.
"Our officials did a more than adequate job (Wednesday) night," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said at the Bloomberg Sports Business Summit. "We've proven we can train officials, get them up to NFL standards, and we've done that in a three-month period. These officials will get even better as time goes by. The game is not going to stop."
But will the concern?
The NFL locked out the officials because of an impasse in contract negotiations with the NFL Referees Association. The sides haven't been able to hammer out a deal because of disputes over salary, retirement benefits and operational issues.
Longtime high school and college official Dale Newhouse of Orinda watched Wednesday's game with a discerning eye, given he once made the leap to the NFL, and his current job entails evaluating and mentoring officials.
Newhouse worked one NFL exhibition game and the 2001 Monday night opener at a time when the regular officials were locked out over a wage dispute.
"I don't think it was a major leap for me because I had the advantage of working leagues with rules similar to the NFL," said
The bigger issue, he said: The fact that the NFL isn't able to secure the best officials available.
That's because 70 percent of major college officials, by Newhouse's estimation, are supervised by NFL officials. (Many NFL refs also coordinate assignments for the college game.)
As a result, current major college officials are barred from working NFL games during the lockout.
"Not having access to those guys makes a lot of difference," Newhouse said. "The NFL isn't getting the cream of the crop, Division I officials."
Even so, Newhouse said, the officials from Wednesday night's game did a commendable job. He said he would have graded them in the B-C range.
Newhouse said he thinks once replacement officials get up to speed, "they'll be fine."
For our money, we'll rely upon on the opinion of Tony Dungy, the man who coached Manning from 2002-08.
"I saw a lot of the same things," Dungy said. "Him going 100 miles an hour during practice, talking to the receivers in between drills and showing them things. But the big thing I noticed ... he delayed (our) interview 25 minutes because he was having a (hand) signals meeting with all of his receivers and backs. That's the old Peyton Manning, the Manning that I know."
All three were employed by the Raiders at one time, yet none chose the Raiders to win the AFC West.
Coincidentally, every one of the panelists selected the 49ers to win the NFC West and the Houston Texans the AFC South.