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Sunday, December 21, 2008
Steelers-Titans attendees deserve $5 rebate

By Paul Kuharsky
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Three hours before the game, a tech guy does an annoyingly long check of the referee's microphone. When the officials first come on the field, they do another. And because referee John Parry was having problems early in the game, there was a short test between the first and second quarters.

No matter.

His microphone didn't work in the second and third quarters, and left two calls that needed a lot of explanation hanging in the air.

In a three-play span at the end of the third quarter, there were two confusing calls -- or at least they were confusing when Parry was unable to convey them to those in attendance through the magic of amplified sound.

A flag was dropped on Kerry Collins' pass thrown into the end zone for Brandon Jones, who got a bit tangled with defensive backs Ryan Clark and Bryant McFadden. It seemed they were going to call pass interference, then it seemed they were indicating the ball had been tipped. Then Jeff Fisher threw a challenge flag, the officials discussed things with him and the flag got picked up. After the game, Fisher said officials were saying the players got tripped up, not that there was a tip.

Then on a fourth-and-1 from the 4-yard line, the Titans were lining up for a field goal attempt and James Harrison was called for simulating the snap count, which is a personal foul. Fans also went without clarification for that call.

In a world with instant replay, first-down lines on TV and high definition JumboTrons, it's hardly unreasonable to expect that the official's microphone will work reliably.

Every ticket buyer deserves a $5 check from the league for the gaffe. They pay for a better experience than that.