Q&A with: An Anonymous Replacement Ref

Ned Prochulee | Drunken Zebra

Back during the 2012 NFL officials’ lockout, several of the replacement referees that the league used were from lower levels of football, such as NCAA Division III. One of these officials, who requested to speak under the condition of anonymity due to death threats, frequently refs football games at Washington University and was kind enough to answer our questions about his brief experience in the NFL.

Student Life: First, aren’t you worried that doing this interview may compromise your identity?

Him: Oh, please, like anyone actually knows anything about what happens at Wash. U. football games.

SL: Fair point. So tell us a bit about your experiences in the NFL.

Him: It was an adjustment, that’s for sure. Beyond that whole actually-playing-in-front-of-fans thing, it’s hard to quantify the difference between getting complained at by a 20-year old kid who’s a biomedical engineer and getting complained at by Ray Lewis.

SL: Why, what’s so scary about Ray Lewis?

Him: Uh, nothing. Nothing at all.

SL: How does it feel knowing that you guys were so bad that fans actually were forced to say nice things about the real refs?

Him: Oh, please. Those guys aren’t so great. One day last season, I was watching a game where a defensive back caught a pass and the ref actually gave his team the ball. And we’re the idiots?

SL: We all heard about the one ref who told running back LeSean McCoy that he needed McCoy to do well for his fantasy team. Did you see or do anything like that?

Him: No, though during the week leading up to one of the games, I kept getting ominous messages from people with Las Vegas area codes. No clue what that was all about.

SL: Did you ever meet Roger Goodell? What’d he have to say?

Him: Yeah, he had a meeting with all of us after the preseason. He said he was really proud of all of us and thought we’d do a great job out there, though come to think of it, he kind of looked like he was trying not to burst into laughter as he was saying it….

SL: As you know, Wash. U. is a very strong athletic school by Division III standards. Is there really that big a difference in quality between what you see here and at the NFL?

Him: Are you high?

SL: Maybe.

Him: Y’know, you really shouldn’t be high while doing your job. Oh, who am I kidding—I was baked as hell in that NFL game that I called.

SL: We could tell. No offense or anything.

Him: None taken.

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