As happy as fans and players and coaches are that regular refs are back, the replacements can at least take a deep breath now, without being national punch lines.
For many, that means a quiet retreat back to high school games tonight, instead of NFL stadiums on Sunday.
“My daughter found the ‘Call Me Maybe’ video they did of us and showed it to me, and I had to laugh,” former replacement ref Jeff Sadorus told Sam Borden of the New York Times. “Honestly, sometimes during this whole thing it felt like the national pastime in this country had changed from football to bashing replacement officials. . . .
“Everyone wanted perfection, but come on: the last guy who was perfect they nailed to a cross. And he wasn’t even an official.”
Flag. Heresy, 15 yards (or, as the case may be, 27).
Officials are prohibited from doing interviews (other than the referee’s pool reports on game days to explain calls), but now that they’re no longer bound to the league, the guys who used to be are fair game.
Sadorus, who works at a food services company near Seattle, called it a “once in a lifetime opportunity,” but one that also came with four months of intensive training, travel and scrutiny. The $3,000 per game checks were balanced by the amount of grief they took.
“We weren’t there to take anyone’s job; we were there to provide a service,” he said. “The games were going to get done by someone. It’s the old saying: without officials, it’s just recess. . . .
“We worked very, very hard. As demonized as we were, I hope people remember that we are people, too.”
That’s true. But they’re also people who made a voluntary decision to do a hard job. If they didn’t think it would be without consequences, they’re as naive as Roger Goodell sounded yesterday saying their bad calls were part of “the beauty of sports.”