Just when we thought we were far enough removed from the pain, disgust and anger, Green Bay Packers fans were once again reminded today – at least those of us who came across this GQ story – a story about those two dirty words: replacement refereess.
That’s right. I know at this point in the season that nasty September game in Seattle feels like a lifetime ago, as it should. So much has happened since then. Good things. Bad things. But thinking back over the course of the first three-fourths of the season, that night and that instant is indeed one of the most gut-wrenching moments in Packers history. Certainly it was a turning points of many during a season when the Packers have looked unbeatable (Bears, Texans), So-So (Jaguars, Cardinals, Saints, Lions), and Bad (Colts, Giants).
In his piece published on gq.com, author Nathanial Penn sat down with six replacement refs and pulled some insightful and brutally honest answers from the men.
The quotes included in the piece range from descriptions on how the league’s lame efforts in recruiting replacements seemed like nothing more than a cattle call, to their love of the game and how much they appreciated the opportunity to be a part of the event. Most interesting to Packers fans are the comments about the Seahawks games.
Let’s start with Wayne Elliott, the referee of the Packers-Seahawks game. The 55-year-old Realtor and NCAA Division III official said that it was the crowd noise at the end of the game that told him there had been a touchdown called.
Elliott: At halftime of the Green Bay-Seattle game, I felt like the cock of the walk. I was thinking, We’re kicking this game’s butt. In the fourth quarter, Green Bay took their first lead of the game; it was 12 to 7. Seattle got the ball back with about a minute left. Then it was fourth-and-ten from the twenty-four. The quarterback rolled sixteen yards back. I’m watching him; he’s my responsibility. I could tell from the reaction of the Seattle bench that we had a touchdown.
And then there was Perry Hudspeth, the investment advisor and retired NCAA Division I official who didn’t work the Seahawks game but had plenty to say about it, and it wasn’t complimentary:
Hudspeth: One official was signaling time-out. When you have a close play and need a second or two to think about it, that’s always a good signal to give. Then the side judge came in and immediately called it a touchdown. I think had they been more experienced, they would have talked to each other first.
Elliott goes on to describe the conversation he had with the replay official, a conversation that should have Packers fans scratching their heads. At least after reading his quote I was wondering what those guys were looking at and what they were thinking. You should read it for yourself …
But this article is about more than just that one game. I came away from reading it with a more complete picture of life as a replacement referee. These guys are clearly human, with all the foibles that come with that package. In the end, they are no different than the regular referees and probably didn’t make any more mistakes than the regulars may have made.
The replacement refs’ mistakes just seemed to be that much more egregious … especially that last one in Seattle.
And if you want one more look at the mugging in Seattle, check it out and be mad all over again.