I Was a Replacement Official.

Well, we really had the rug pulled out from under us. And just when we were getting the hang of it! I have a hard time reading newspapers—what with just the one good eye and all—but my wife tells me we were all over the headlines. We were getting so much attention that we were detracting from the players and games themselves!

Of course the prima donnas couldn’t stand for this. They sought only the status quo, when the boys in stripes were like second class citizens, neither seen nor heard, nor arbitrarily determining the outcome of contests! Let’s just roll back civil rights while we’re at it!

I’m no hero. I just a referee. But I did make this collage that suggests otherwise.

When they dug me up for the gig, I was about ready for a change. I’d spent the past year in Tijuana officiating cockfights. The rules were pretty much the same. No talons to the face, no illegal cockblocking in the backfield. The outcome usually came down to who bribed or threatened my life the most. Or which rooster ripped off the other’s head first. When I intimated my cockfighting experience to the NFL, they made it clear that under no circumstances was I to allow players to murder one another. Right, I said. Wink wink, nudge nudge. I suppose side-betting is off the table too! Ha. Good group of guys.

I must admit though, officiating the NFL took some getting used to. After a 30 minute PowerPoint presentation, Roger Goodell slapped me on the back and said, “Alright, give it a shot.” Not even my best shot. There wasn’t even time to sober up from my morning buzz. I tell you, Manny down in Tijuana wouldn’t have sent me into the ring in my condition. He ran a tight ship. Honestly though, I really think I took to it.

Left: Goodell clearly uncomfortable with my wonky eye.  Right: Manny, you crazy S.O.B.!

Of course you can’t please everybody. Among my “perceived” offenses:

  • Jets fans were up in arms when I flagged Rex Ryan for sexual harassment. I don’t care if they are wearing spandex, slapping your coworkers on the bottom in the workplace is an easy way to lose 15 yards. 
  • Because I didn’t know all the rules, sometimes I’d have to just penalize things that annoyed me. Like when I invalidated that Baltimore Ravens field goal due to excessive ball spinning. I don’t get it; why’s the ball gotta spin so much when you kick it? Spin spin spin, enough! We get it! It’s not helping my hangover.
  • The coin flip. Sure, maybe before the game I’d approach a certain quarterback who shall remain nameless and say, “Hey Peyton, wanna make sure your team wins the toss? Autograph a few of these footballs and you got yourself a goddamn deal.” Then if he lost the toss, I’d be like, “Wait, what did everybody call again? We gotta redo this whole thing.”
  • The worst were the challenges. I’d have to crawl into that little camera tent thing and pretend I’m poring over footage of the bogus call I’d just made, when really I was just calling my mom to ask what she saw, and trying to stop crying.

Left: “Anybody know how to change the station on this thing? 2 Broke Girls is on in 5.”
Right: Got a ton of these still if you’re interested and the price is right.

Human error is part of the game! Anyway, nobody deserves what we were subjected to on a weekly basis. You thought it was poor form when Belichick yanked that ref by the arm after their loss? Well I don’t even want to tell you what Roethlisberger tried on me in the replacement locker room, a.k.a. our post game panic room. Let’s just say that man doesn’t know the meaning of the word “NO.”

Oh and you’d think I’d just shot the mascot the way everybody reacted when I politely asked Cam Newton to sit out the second half so I could make the spread. I lost fifteen hundred bucks on that one! And in the words of Clint Eastwood, “No, I can’t do that to myself, Cam!”

Left: Belichick, in Tijuana you’d get shiv’d for this.    Right: He haunts my dreams.

The only guy who treated me like an actual human was Tim Tebow. He’d come up to me after a game where I blew a few calls and say, “It’s okay, buddy. I still love you and so does Christ.” Then he took me out for a steak dinner! He even invited me back to stay at his place, said he’d sleep on the couch and that I could take the bed! I told him my wife would love to meet him too, but he said on second thought he was getting tired. Oh well. The point is that you can’t let things get to you when you’re officiating the big leagues. That’d be like letting my legal blindness or peg leg slow me down!

Now you want us out like yesterday’s garbage. Not even letting us keep our whistles?! Well I lost that little Made-in-China piece of crap in a scrum, and there’s no way you’re getting the rape whistle I’ve been using. You never know where Big Ben might be lurking. And no, Roger, it doesn’t make up for it letting all the replacement officials use your pool between the hours of 12 and 2 p.m. while your family is in Cabo! I tell you, days like this make me miss officiating in my old prison league. At least they knew how to thank a guy.

Way to go, Jim. You ruined everything for us!  EVERYTHING!!!

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