Learn to love the NFL replacement referees in 420 words

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You’re not going to win this one. The replacement refs are here, and there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of progress being made between the NFL and the League of Extraordinary Officials Who Can Actually Figure Out Where to Spot a Ball Within Eleven Minutes. But this doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy football. Don’t get mad, get glad. Here’s how:

It’s simple math. Unless you’re some strange breed of passive sports fan, you have a team that you root for and all other teams can go to hell. So if that’s true:

Teams you root for = 1

Teams you root against = 31

These replacement refs are going to blow calls — obvious calls, even after looking at the replay — that will impact your team negatively. That’s a pill you’re just going to have to swallow. But, what’s often forgotten in the common perception is that there will be far, far more calls that go against teams that you hate than there will be calls that go against teams that you love (recall: 1:31 ratio). And that, friends, is a wonderful thought.

It’s worth acknowledging that if two hated teams are playing in the same game, then a bad call for one would be a good call for the other. This might seem to imply that the situation is a wash.


While the call itself works out to a wash, the kicker (think: high card in poker, not ‘guy on the team with the stupid face mask’) is the looks on the faces of the less fortunate team. Take Sunday (9/23) night’s game, for example. Is there anything sweeter in all of sports — New Englanders and frontrunners excluded — than watching Bill Belichick’s face contort in disbelief as a blown call (or five) happen to go against the Patriots? Ah, the euphoric, karmic joy of watching a man whose team was caught cheating being cheated out of a call. Those are the moments that make poorly officiated sports worth watching. Babies giggle, homophobia and racism are set aside, Palestinians and Israelis high five one another, and an extraordinarily bitter man in a grey hoodie cringes inside and out as he discovers, at the hands of a replacement referee, that not only is he not God, but that God doesn’t even root for the Patriots.

Sure, we’d like to watch some actual football with properly enforced rules and timely decisions at some point this season, but until then, let’s make the best of a bad situation.

Sports hatin’ just got way more fun. All aboard!


Update: God also does not root for the Packers (see: Monday Night Football on 9/24).

Ian Micir is associate editor of When Falls the Coliseum. He graduated from Drexel University with a BA in English in June of 2012. During his time at Drexel, he won ten awards for writing, including five in his final year. Micir’s work has appeared in The 33rd – An Anthology and The Classical.

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3 Responses to “Learn to love the NFL replacement referees in 420 words”

  1. You jumped the gun on this column. Last night I watched the NFL turn into a farce. Pete Carroll should be apologizing for his stupid display that even his own players know was wrong. McCarthy should not have sent his players back onto the field. This game does not deserve to be in the books and I am not watching another game until this CRAP ball is back on track.

  2. John,

    Here are a few quotes from the article:

    “These replacement refs are going to blow calls — obvious calls, even after looking at the replay — that will impact your team negatively.”

    This is exactly what just happened last night when you “watched the NFL turn into a farce,” so I’m not sure what you mean when you say I jumped the gun. I feel a little like a sports Nostradamus right now to be honest. Yes, the NFL is a farce right now. That’s acknowledged here, as I refer to the return of the regular refs as “actual football,” because, yes, right now it’s a joke:

    “Sure, we’d like to watch some actual football with properly enforced rules and timely decisions at some point this season, but until then, let’s make the best of a bad situation.”

    So again, yes this is, as you so perfectly put it, “CRAP ball.” We’re just dealing with it differently. I’m still going to watch about as much crap ball as I usually do football; I’m just going to do so while delighting in the missed calls that go against all teams but the Eagles. Will I be pissed when they go against my beloved birds? You betcha. But so far, I’ve seen the Patriots and the Packers get handed a loss they didn’t earn, and I hate the Patriots and Packers. So for now, as they say, I’ve got two fouls to give.

    If you’re really not going to watch anything until the regulars are back, more power to you. But I can promise you the stingy NFL owners aren’t going broke any time soon (though we’d all love to see Jerry Jones scrounging through his couch cushions for enough to get a Big Mac and some fries).

    Lastly, again, in no way did I jump the gun, because the touchdown call last night (and the flag for roughing the passer which canceled out an interception before it) was EXACTLY what this article is about. This stuff’s going to happen, and it’s going to continue to happen. Difference is, I’m laughing at it and finding some way to enjoy it and you’re turning off your TV.

    To each his own.

    (Thanks for commenting and for reading When Falls the Coliseum. I/we appreciate it!)

  3. I should have chosen my words better. I was pretty upset last night after watching that mess on my Hi-Def. What I should have said you were some how (divine intervention?) spot on before hand and the proof reared its ugly head. I only pay attention to 2 teams and one of them payed players for hits so they deserve what this season brings them. The other was robbed of a win last night. McCarthy played a great second half and made the correct adjustments to his team to win this game. Pete Carroll is a fool and failed to adjust to the new offense he was faced with. Refs do blow calls and everyone that did not have a horse in the race last night is crying about bad calls from the 80’s. Really? The 80’s? These players train hard and play hard, the owners do not respect the players anymore than the respect the refs they already made a deal with. No I will not be watching as long as the fiasco is on T.V. (I have an old car that I need to rebuild anyway). I would find a documentary on ole Jerry Jones begging on the street quite humorous though. To quote my brother “Screw Jerry Jones and his big fancy stadium”. Sorry if it sounded like I was degrading you…..

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