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Eight Simple Things About Replacement Referees

Richard Sherman protests, so the ref picks up the 11 flags he threw.
Richard Sherman protests, so the ref picks up the 11 flags he threw.

The Seattle Seahawks take on the Dallas Cowboys this weekend and this is normally something that I would preview in an "Eight Simple Things" post but I already did one of those last year on Tony Romo. I'm also on a tight schedule, as I will be travelling to Las Vegas from Thursday through the weekend to see the Cougs "Air Raid" attack take on the UNLV Running Rebels. (Hopefully the "Air Raid" stops acting like Southwest Air Raid and only travelling short distances.)

Another pertinent issue that we will be looking forward(?) to is this deal with the replacement officials. Seattle was right at the forefront of this issue when people that are refereeing actual NFL games gave the Seahawks a fourth timeout at a crucial time in the loss to Arizona. Thanks? I actually wonder if that hurt us more than it helped us, but we will never know for sure.

What we do know for sure is that these guys have very little idea of what they are doing.

I want to say that I feel bad saying that. These are just people, after all. Men with families and homes and regular jobs. One might even say that these men go home at the end of the day and say to their sons and daughters, "We have rules in this house!" but when questioned by the child as to what those rules are, they shrug because they have no idea.

"Honey, what are the rules again?"

These men and woman also just took jobs and nobody forced them to take those jobs. We already know that it pays jack squat. People are fallible and we all make mistakes, but this is a job where mistakes can cost dearly, even little ones. However, we've seen a few times where the mistakes weren't so little and I've seen officials look around like they were unsure what basic rules were. The fourth timeout being one of them, but I also noticed in the Raiders game where an official had to ask another official more than once if defensive holding was five yards. Many NFL fans watching at homes could tell you the answer to that, and I understand that you want to be right above all else, but after a preseason of practice you should know the yardage on common penalties. Especially if you're the head ref.

Games are feeling a little long right now as we wait for the replacements to get it right and confer over penalties that shouldn't need conferences, as they peak around sheepishly to see if their calls are right before they announce them to the crowd, and they will continue to draw ridicule until the NFL and real referees get their shit settled. I never thought I could miss Ed Hochuli's big manly muscles as much as I do right now.

I didn't start to write this article with all that much knowledge on refs and the lockout that has put us in this position and that's why I'm putting this together. So that we can all become a little more informed on the zebras that are going to be affecting our lives for a little while longer, potentially. Also because it's fun.

Here are eight things you may or may not know about *WHISTLE!* /Holding, Kenneth, 15 yards, repeat 5th down.

What's the deal?

Finding the exact sticking point between the NFL and the NFLRA is a difficult one because most of the negotiations are behind closed doors and you get different sides to the story. The NFLRA said that the difference that the NFL does not want to pay is a mere $6,000 per game. Of course, there are many games and it would roughly come out to $16.5 million total over the life of the contract, but it's a valid point that the NFL isn't really strapped for cash right now.

The referees were locked out on June 3rd and here we stand over three months later without real officials. It is true that officials in other major leagues seem to make more money but also true that NFL officials work the least. If an NFL ref starting out makes $25,000 a year (as at least one site reported) and works 17 weeks, that's $1,470 a game.

If you and I made $1,470 per day and worked five days a week for 52 weeks, that would equal $382,200 per year. Of course, the refs must spend time outside of game day to prepare, take courses, classes, practice their hand gestures, and workout with Hochuli, but it's still a pretty good deal if you consider the amount of actual games that a ref works.

Actually, I also just found this article that states that the average NFL ref makes $8,000 per game, which would be up to $136,000. However it also says that its a 16-week season and is a paper in Scranton, PA which isn't even a real place. Only a made-up place for The Office.

Someone thinks I'm serious with that last line.

However, I had this argument with my friends on Sunday about the lockout and whether or not the refs were right. My argument is pretty firmly that they are and that if you are one of 120 people to get a job as a ref in the NFL, you should be compensated with a full year salary. Even if you are only working 5-6 months a year, it's not about what you make per day, you should be able to say that it is your only job even if it means that you decide to take other work in your free time.

A rookie will make almost $400,000 in a year and might not even play and then get cut after the season. On the other hand a ref is making this his livelihood and could very well be around for decades. There aren't that many officials, so paying a tenured official $150,000+ a year with full benefits does not sound crazy to me.

On the other hand, if the officials are asking for the world because they just believe that they are that important, it makes sense for the NFL to not open the locked door. The refs live a pretty cake life, so as long as you're being well compensated for a part-time job, get the damn deal done.

(Anyone that wants to point out a mistake above with source, or additional info on salaries and compensation, please post!)

This could go on for at least five more weeks. Sam Jackson says to hold onto your asses.

According to the Boston Herald, a person familiar with the scheduling says that a plan is in place for the replacements through week 5. That could mean nothing, but it could also mean that the league is fully prepared to go on with this no matter how lost the replacements look out there.

When all of this news about using replacements started to become more and more public as the preseason went on, I thought that it would be ludicrous to expect the regular season to start with these ones but here we are. I think it would be common sense to expect the replacements to get better as the season goes on, but you could never replace that kind of NFL experience. You could never replace the relationship that a veteran official has with a coach or player. I'd hate to think that any sort of influence could come over a replacement because he's unsure if the coach actually does know more than he or she does, and these refs certainly look unsure at times.

Take note of the five or six minute delay in our own Seahawks-Cards game during the inexplicable stoppage in time.

Regular officials make mistakes all the time. They get questioned all the time. They are far from perfect. But they're closer to perfect than this group by a wide margin and I'd hate to see what would happen if a team lost a game on a blatantly bad call that the average fan could have gotten right. The longer this goes on, the more that becomes possible.

Are the replacements going easy on 'em?

There has been a lot of talk, and I mean a lot, on how it seems that at least refs are "letting 'em play out there." Meaning that there are fewer ticky tack calls and pass interference penalties. That line of thinking would make sense to me because I imagine that a meeting right now between the replacements and the league would go something like, "If you can just go sixty minutes without people dying or kicking a team out of the league, we'll be fine."

However, there were 29 defensive pass-interference penalties called in week 1. That's the most since at least 2000 and more than double the average of 13 per week 1. One could argue (and that article linked above did) that teams got more physical in the hopes that they could get away with more, but that clearly wasn't the case. I've also thought that I could get more physical during certain points in my life, only to get shutdown emphatically.

As we saw against the Cardinals, two crucial PI's were called, but Pete Carroll felt that they missed out on the most important PI of all that came on the final play of the game against Braylon Edwards. The article also notes that home teams were favored more than road teams, something that could potentially bode well for the loudest stadium in the NFL. So make sure to make the replacements feel as bad as possible on Sunday.

According to Anchorman, "Women can do things now" and that includes ref an NFL game

One of the main things that will come out of this standoff is the presence of the league's first female official, Shannon Eastin. The NFL had never hired a female official before but after perusing their rulebooks they were baffled to find that nothing about being an official required a penis.

"I could have sworn we had a dong rule," said Roger Goodell.

It really makes a person wonder how much further female integration into the NFL could go in the coming years. It does seem unlikely that a woman could become an NFL football player outside of special teams, where college has had female kickers in the past. But why not coaching? Plenty of coaches were bred to be coaches and never played all that much, if at all. Hell, they let Norv Turner do it.

What about General Manager? My mom doesn't know anything about football, but she's more qualified than Matt Millen.

Shannon Eastin was one of a series of steps that will require female integration, but she was an important one. The only part that sucks is that male referees get paid very little, and she only makes 80% of what they get.

The Quality

Much has been made about the quality of the replacements, going as far as reportedly hiring officials that were recently in the Lingerie League. No, that link has no pictures from the lingerie league.

The fact of the matter is that high-level college referees wouldn't cross the picket lines and so they had to go to places like Monmouth (no offense Monmouth) or something really crappy like Washington State. (Oh crap, that's my school. I just made fun of my own alma mater, but that would have been the unbiased thing to say.)

I just hate to think that in a league where Mike Pereira had to become the first subject of human cloning so that he could appear on every NFL game seventeen times, you'd want to have the best of the best. This is pretty much the worst of the second-best.

The Mistakes

The preseason saw the replacements review a review. There was the timeout for Seattle. A flag in the Green Bay game for a block in the back that was picked up and allowed a Randall Cobb punt return to stand.

Then on Monday night the refs didn't know that NFL has a two-minute warning.

The only thing that the refs got right was throwing a flag on the Raiders for every play.

Anything else?


Disappointed when they found out this wasn't an old-timey peep show


Thinks this is Randy Moss


I'd say this TD is questionable now if the refs believe it's a TD


No, you're not supposed to do that


Must be 2nd down


So, what now?

What now is that the NFL and the NFLRA need to come to an agreement. The replacements made mistakes, just as the real ones have and will continue to do, but at least the official officials don't have a look on their face like a peasant from 1770 that just traveled into the future and wound up in a Eastern European disco blasting new age house music.

"Where am I?"

You're in an NFL game.

"What's going on?"

That guy over there just false started. His name is Russell Okung.

"What's that noise?"

Charlie Whitehurst is bumpin' Skrillex.

Let's please find a way to get this settled. This has made for some interesting and memorable moments, but we've had our fun and extra timeouts. Time to pay the piper because Hochuli's a month away from losing his Gold's membership.

Not follow me on Twitter? That's a paddlin'