Substitute Referees Relieved of Duty
This past Wednesday, everyone’s favorite National Football League referee Ed Hochuli was down on the ground doing push-ups. Hochuli’s push-ups were in celebration of the end of the referee lockout that everyone had grown far too tired of. The NFL and the National Football League Referees Association (NLFRA) settled on a deal that effectively ended the lockout Wednesday night.
Although the whole referee situation was a pain, it did provide an eventful start to the NFL season. I mean, really, when else will you see referees misspot the ball by five yards or refer to the Atlanta Falcons as Arizona at least twice in a game played in Atlanta. Don’t get me wrong, though, I am excited this is all over.
From the start, the replacements were never in a position to take over the job. These replacements were high school referees, lingerie league officials and other second-tier officiaters.
Basically they started refereeing as a part-time hobby and got thrown into the national spotlight. And I mean, you can’t really blame them for the job they have been doing.
It is as if you gave Hugh Laurie a scalpel and told him to perform surgery on a real-life patient. It was clear from the first pre-season game these refs were in over their head. Teams were given extra challenges, pass interferences that didn’t happen were being called and players were getting leveled with no penalties.
They started fining coaches, and fans started chanting out inappropriate words. Everything got out of hand.
Fortunately, week three’s Monday night game, where a botched call cost the Green Bay Packers the game, seemed to be the tipping point.
The league announced that a deal had been worked out Wednesday night and that the deal was approved in a voting process the following Saturday.
Since the deal is done, let’s talk some numbers. The referees got what they wanted in the form of a pay raise and an increased annual pension contribution.
Their pay will increase from $149,000 to $205,000 a year, while their annual pensions will increase from a previous $18,000 to $23,000.
That’s about a 35 percent pay and pension increase. Not too shabby if you consider the fact that these refs are only doing their actual job 16 to 20 days a year, depending on if they work the post-season.
Meanwhile, the NFL is now required to meet all retirement account contributions made by the referees, meaning whenever a referee decides to fork a sum of money into his/her retirement account, the NFL must fork over the same amount.
Although it’ll be hard to be any worse than the replacement refs, how in tune are these real refs?
In case you were scared about them not being prepared, they’ve been spending about 30 hours a week watching film, reviewing rulebooks and going over missed calls.
I have not seen anyone work that hard for no pay since I was a full-time intern in high school.
Apparently, getting in shape was not the only thing the aforementioned Ed Hochuli was doing.
He had been helming the training effort by sending out practice tests and reviews for the locked-out officials so that they could stay sharp and be ready to step in at anytime.
After this past weekend’s set of games, the refs don’t seem to be lacking at all. Fouls were explained fluidly, the mechanics of the game were restored and all the calls we took for granted were being called again.
As for the league, they did not seem to be in danger of losing any sponsors or advertising revenue. Some words from major sponsors like Ford may have expedited the negotiation process though.
Roger Goodell released his apology on Thursday saying, “Obviously when you go through something like this, it’s painful for everybody.
Most importantly, it’s painful for fans. We’re sorry to have put the fans through that. Sometimes you have to go through something like that in the short term for the right agreement for the long term.” The league also paid the replacement officials for this week’s games even though they will not be refereeing in them.
So with all this hilarity finally resolved, we can watch football again without having to worry about whether the referees are making the correct calls or whether the game is being thrown one way or another. Personally, I will not have to hear my friends complaining about how I only won the fantasy game because of one play or another.
So football is football again, the Falcons will be called the Falcons again and Ed Hochuli will still be doing push-ups.
— By Alex Lam