Memo to the Replacement Referees

Roger Goodell's Official(ly Fake) Letter to the Replacement Refs

By Bryan Knowles

With apologies to the fantastic Memos From Fury Blog, we here at The Best Sports Blog have received exclusive memoranda from the desk of Roger Goodell, commissioner of the National Football League. We’re excited to share with you this internal communication between the commissioner and the wonderful replacement referees, replacing the still locked-out regular officials.
September 27, 2012

From the Desk of Commissioner Goodell:

NFL Head Offices, New York

To the replacement referees:

Fantastic job during the last couple of weeks, men. I know you’ve been put in a difficult position, having to replace referees who have spent a significant chunk of their adult life pouring over and familiarizing themselves with the rules and regulations of the National Football League, but you’ve proven yourselves equal to the challenge, and I’m proud to say, we nearly had the quality of our officiating get back up to the level of Division II and III NCAA football which some of you were lucky enough to have officiated in before. Good show! There’s some slight room for improvement, of course, and this letter is designed to help you through some of the more obscure and tricky scenarios and situations that may have come up over the last few weeks, so we can continue to provide the fifth-greatest officiating crew in American professional sports.

  • Teams get three time outs per half, as opposed to four or five. Additionally, because a challenge costs a time out if proven wrong, teams should not be granted challenges if they have already used their third and final time out. This holds true even when the head coach issuing the challenge is very frightening and yells loudly at you. It’s OK, they aren’t allowed to touch you.
  • If you DO give an accidental challenge, at least don’t give them their third time out back.
  • If you DO give them their third time out back, for the love of God, don’t then allow them to challenge AGAIN. That might begin to make us look bad.
  • On the subject of challenges, review is intended to be a supplement to on the field rulings, not a replacement for making judgments as they happen. So, um, if you see Shaun Draughn possibly fumble, you need to rule on the field whether or not it was a fumble BEFORE going in to review it.
  • On the subject of time outs, coaches are allowed to call them now! I know we said they weren’t to argue too much with you, but they ARE allowed to try to get your attention so you can correctly grant them a time out. I think it’s possible a couple people might have noticed this one on Sunday night.
  • Players for Cincinnati or Detroit or Carolina are simply on teams named for animals; they are not some sort of human-animal hybrid. Complementing them on their grooming habits or command of the English language, while meant in the kindest possible sense, might possibly be considered demeaning.
  • While we’re on the subject, try not to encourage players to do well for your fantasy team.
  • Please do not have a fantasy team.
  • In addition, asking players for their autograph during game action will no longer be permitted.
  • Penalties are, generally, given out in increments of five or fifteen yards, with the exception of pass interference, which is a spot foul. Unsportsmanlike conduct is a 15 yard penalty, not 20.
  • In addition, when half of one team has prematurely entered the field of play before the conclusion of a game, they are more likely the ones at fault for the unsportsmanlike foul, not the ones trying to run off the next play.
  • A personal foul is a 15 yard penalty, not a 27 yard penalty. There is a difference, you see, between the two 44-yard lines. You can’t just march off the penalty from whichever, assuming they are identical. Penalties, generally speaking, are marched off from the spot at which the penalty occurred, not a random place on the other side of the field. I know it’s sometimes difficult to recall where you are during a complex play like an incomplete pass, but do try, especially if you have access to replay equipment.
  • Memo to the Replacement Referees
    Sep 24, 2012; Seattle, WA, USA; NFL referee Richard Simmons breaks up an altercation between the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers after the game at CenturyLink Field. Seattle defeated Green Bay 14-12. Photo Courtesy By Steven Bisig-US PRESSWIRE.
  • While we’re on the subject, for a pass to be incomplete, it does need to actually touch the ground at some point. I know, it seems like a minor, nit-picky point, but if a receiver catches a thrown ball and never actually loses possession of it, we generally consider that a “catch” here in the NFL, as long as they stay inside the field of play somewhere.
  • For an example of an incomplete pass, please check out this video.
  • The New York Giants are a football team. The San Francisco Giants are a baseball team. They do not employ the same players. Eli Manning is not Tim Lincecum with a haircut.
  • If you are a die-hard fan of one of our teams, please let us know beforehand. Opposing teams get annoyed when they hear the referees try to convince the other officials that one team deserves a call because they are any combination of “wicked awesome”, “due”, or that they are the “suckeist bunch of suckers who ever sucked”.
  • There is a two-minute warning with two-minutes left in the second and fourth quarters of a regulation football game. There is only one two-minute warning in each of these cases.
  • Despite it being “Talk Like a Pirate Day” this past week, all announcements to the stadium should be made in proper English. The Rams play in St. Louis, not “Saint Louie”.
  • Talk Like a Pirate Day also does not mean the Buccaneers or Raiders should get favoritism in their calls.
  • Oh, good lord, next Sunday is Blasphemy Day. Just….don’t. Don’t. Please.
  • Please, please, please be careful where you leave your gear.
  • Despite that last note, remember -- you guys are in charge out there – if there are fights and brawls, you are allowed to throw your little yellow hankies and blow on your whistles. The players are trained to respond to such things, and perhaps not murder one another on the field in quite the same way as they seem to be doing now. Some people have begun to notice the more rough and tumble nature of the games now, and we’re really trying to emphasize this whole ‘safety’ thing, so maybe if you wouldn’t let anyone get seriously hurt by allowing ‘boys to be boys’ and hard hits that we’ve pretty much banned, that would be great…
  • oh, great. Well, despite not being a helmet-to-helmet hit, that was clearly a hit on a defenseless player, so calling the penalty was the right decision there.
  • …you did call a penalty there, yes?
  • Please say yes.
  • …OK, OK, we have differences in judgment. Just…you know, try not to…get any of our promising young players murdered on the field. You know, that would be…that would be great, if we could do that. You know, just a thought. I mean, there’s a first time for everything.
  • Sorry for shouting there. Unprofessional of me, I know. But, then, so would you, right? Unprofessional? Because you’re the replacement referees? Get it? Ha, I slay me.
  • …you don’t appear to be laughing. That’s OK. Just trying to, y’know … it was tense there for a moment, thought we might, y’know, try to laugh this off. Just a little.

This isn't meant to discourage you - refereeing in the NFL is hard! Just encouraging you to give this your full effort! I know we can make week 4 just as exciting and notable as weeks 2 and 3 were. Go get ‘em, tigers! Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go try and find the phone number for the referee's union, to show them what a fantastic job you all have been doing. I'll see you next week, and every week after for the foreseeable future!

Roger Goodell, NFL commissioner.

Other NFL Referee Lockout Articles

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