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If you’ve turned on ESPN at least once this NFL season, you know the grim situation we’re in. Though the NFL thought it could get by for a few weeks with replacement refs while labor disputes continued, the sad fact is that a series of unacceptable calls have plagued our beloved league. It isn’t even close to okay, so I did a little research to find out some of this scab’s credentials. Needless to say, they aren’t exactly the most impressive résumés. Note that, as much as I would like to be kidding, these are all these guy’s actual jobs.
Jim Core- NAIA, Frontier Conference, and Arena Football ref. Also a middle school teacher in Idaho, because no way three bottom of the barrel leagues can pay you enough to survive.
Jerry Frump- D1 and D3 official, who had experience during the 2001 NFL lockout (so he’s used to the mediocrity).
Matt Nicks- Tennessee high school football official. This guy must be shitting himself nervous every week.
Craig Ochoa- Former Lingerie Football League referee. Not even kidding.
David White- Another Tennessee high school football ref. Tennessee high school football must be a pass-interference laden wasteland.
Wayne Bernier- Official for 6v6 high school football in Amarillo, Texas. Because those extra 5 guys couldn’t possibly make that much of a difference, right?
Mike Peek- Another 2001 replacement “veteran.” I can only assume he’s suicidal at this point.
Mike Wilmoth- High school social studies teacher, and baseball coach in Kansas. Close enough?
Shannon Eastin- The first female official to ever work an NFL preseason and regular season game. Has 16 years experience officiating for the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Sadly, the chick has one of the most impressive credentials.
Alvin Thomas- High School ref in the Central Florida. On the bright side, he was good enough to get selected for the high school playoffs officiating squad.
Lance Easley- Junior College football and basketball referee. Also the guy who blew the end of the game call in the Packers-Seahawks game. This guy’s life has been better.
Brian Stropolo- Avid New Orleans Saints fan who made no attempt to hide his affiliations. Professional dumbass.
Eric Joe- Sacramento High School football ref, and spent some time reffing Junior Colleges in Northern California.
Rusty Spindel- The shining light of the scab refs. 25 years of BCS experience, and he’s still probably terrible at his job.
Henry Zaborniak- Assistant Commissioner of the Ohio High School Athletic Association. Commissioner, referee, what’s the difference right?
Aaron Schrein- High school teacher and Patriot League referee. It seems that high schools nationwide are feeder programs for replacement officials.
Michael Varner- Watched a football game once.
Peter Shafer- Soccer official who figured “How much different could it possibly be?”
Calvin White- Won an ESPN fantasy football contest for the right to become a replacement referee.
Okay, so maybe those last few weren’t real, but I wish I could say the same for the others. As collective bargaining between the league and the officials trickles at a snail’s pace, I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say FIGURE IT THE FUCK OUT. We as Americans and NFL followers commit quite a bit of our time and money to the professional version of the sport we love, and with each passing week the sanctity of the sport falls more and more into question. I don’t blame these refs; most (if not all) of them have been called up from positions where being an average ref is not only permissible, it is the norm.
While there will always be complaints about referees in every sport known to humanity, none of the professionals in the National Football League would ever make so glaring a mistake as giving a team an extra challenge, timeout, or incorrectly assessing yards on a penalty. I can only hope that in due time this crisis will be resolved and I can start cursing incessantly at professional officials on my television screen, instead of this consortium of high school teachers and DIII amateurs.