The Replacements: How Did The NFL Refs Do?

What Gene Hackman is mimicking with his hands in this poster, Roger Goodell is doing with the Refs.

POINT MUGU, CA – (Oh Mugu, you’ve done it again!) Replacements are often controversial. Colonel Potter replaced Colonel Blake on MASH.  Then Frank Burns was replaced by Charles Winchester III.  Woody replaced the beloved Coach on Cheers. Richard Grieco’s Jump Street spin-off Booker was the unfair victim of mid-season replacement, with a spin-off from the Tracy Ullman Show – of all things… and never got another chance because The Simpsons is still on the air. On this site alone we’ve seen a number of replacements…I myself replaced a far flung corespondent who himself was named Replacement Matt.

Perhaps a show about an undercover lizard man-boy was just too ahead of its time.

In sports, being replaced is just part of the job. Wally Pipp was replaced by Lou Gehrig. Joe DiMaggio was replaced in center field by Mickey Mantle. Buck Showalter is often replaced by managers who win the World Series the next year. Peyton Manning was replaced in Indianapolis by Andrew Luck, and so far…well, one game is a small sample size.

The replacements on everyone’s radars yesterday, however, were the officials. Roger Goodell was always on his way to becoming as loathsome as Bud Selig, and this flap with the referees is another mighty step in that direction. There have been replacement officials before – MLB umpires were replaced by their minor league counterparts for 45 days of blown calls in 1979; NBA refs were replaced in 1995 for 68 days of constant whistle blowing in 1995–but, in this case, things might just work out for Goodell and company, and perhaps not so much for Ed Hochuli and company.

Hochuli training to twist Goodell’s head off in negotiations.

Sure there were plenty of gaffes; a fourth time-out called by Seattle probably being the most egregious – but frankly, nothing we haven’t seen before. In last night’s Denver-Steeler game there were a number of times the spotlight shined on the scabs, revealing confused looks flashing across their faces as they struggled with the proper ruling, weren’t exactly on the same page all the time or when the players and coaches tried taking advantage of them. For instance, Ben Roethlisberger calling and getting a time out after the play clock expired. Or when a pivotal sack by the Broncos was nullified by a false start penalty, and for a second it looked like John Fox could actually decline it, even though it was a dead-ball penalty before the snap. They got that one right; the ones they missed I didn’t mind so much.

So screw you, Peyton Manning, trying to run a surprise play at the end of the quarter to try and catch the Steelers with too many men on the field, these beer league refs don’t give a crap about those bush league tactics (though, earlier in the day, the Saints were burned by a 12-man penalty because their guy coming out decided to stop for some bignets on the way to the sideline). As far as I could see, apart from rightfully calling some late helmet to helmet hits, these guys are mostly just letting the players play. Maybe an extra uncalled horse-collar every now and then isn’t such a bad thing? Maybe it is… but the world of the NFL, with automatic replays now after each touchdown and turn over making for some noticeably longer games yesterday – seems on its way to replacing them all with robots soon enough anyway.

Speaking of robots, watch Replacement Matt’s acting in this:

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About West Coast Craig 226 Articles
West Coast Craig reports from Hollywood with an endearingly laid back style. A happily married father of two little boys, WCC has an avocado tree in his yard, plays the hot corner in a "Valley" hardball league and always manages to take cool sports-related mini road-trips, often with his immediate clan. He hails from Oneonta, NY but has been "So very L.A." for twenty years, so his sports teams are the Yankees AND the Dodgers, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the L.A. Lakers and the Colorado Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques. WCC loves bacon-wrapped hotdogs and can touch his heel and his ear... with his hand.