Behind The Scenes: The Referee Review Meeting

Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

After one of the most...interesting ends to a football game most of us have ever seen, the NFL has allowed the Battle Red Onion exclusive access (in the form of a reporter wearing a referee uniform, Groucho glasses and a comically large false mustache) to the review meeting for the replacement referees. Here's a rundown of what happened.

(The room is filled from wall to wall with referees. It's filled with the noises of light chatter punctuated by the sharp sound of someone laughing...probably from watching one of the games they called earlier.

Once in a while, a wad of paper sails across the room and seventeen yellow flags come out of seemingly nowhere. Some referees are reading such masterworks as "The Hopeless [expletive] Cretin's Guide to Being A Referee," some copies of which are not being read upside-down.

The rest are grumbling about the disgraceful treatment they've received at the hands of players, coaches, fans, and the occasional chimpanzee, and wondering if they could lodge an appeal with Roger Goodell about it.)

(Lead Referee walks in; other refs stand at attention.)

Lead Referee: Sit down, sit down, we don't have time for formalities here. As you all know, Monday night was a...um...critical, yeah, critical moment for you all. Isn't that right? I said, "isn't that right, Briggs?"

(Briggs is nudged awake and stands bolt upright out of his chair)

Briggs: Holding! On the defense!

Lead Referee: Briggs...

Briggs (looks around confusedly): Where am I? Did we win?

Lead Referee (sighs): It's the review meeting, Briggs.

Briggs: Oh. (returns to seat)

Lead Referee: Right, as I was saying, it was a critical moment and it tells me that there are still a few things that you need help with, aren't there?

(Referees nod almost in unison, Briggs begins to doze again)

Lead Referee (cont'd.): As I thought, so we'll start off today's meeting with a video review.

(Shows video of Joe Mays' hit on Matt Schaub)

Lead Referee: Where's the penalty on this play?

(The room is silent, save for Briggs' snoring)

Lead Referee: Anyone at all? Care to take a guess?

(One hand goes up)

Lead Referee: Higgins?

Higgins (stands, holding a long white cane and wearing dark glasses): Holding?

Lead Referee (Grinds teeth): Nooooo...but good guess. Anybody else? Bostich?

Bostich: Illegal hands to the face?

Lead Referee: No! Try again!

Bostich: Roughing the passer!

Lead Referee: Very good! You may sit down now.

(Bostich sits)

Lead Referee: Now let's take a look at the Raiders/Steelers game.

(Replays illegal hit to Darrius Heyward-Bey)

Lead Referee: Now someone show me the penalty here.

Higgins: Holding!

Lead Referee (Reaches below podium): No. Yes, Lawrence?

Lawrence (stands): Helmet-to-helmet hit?

Lead Referee: Technically yes. Should it be called?

Lawrence: Um...no?

Lead Referee: Very good! Remember there are certain teams that are allowed to get away with stuff like this. The Steelers are one of them. If you remember nothing else, remember that much.

(Mindless nodding commences)

Lead Referee: And then there's the Monday night game.

(Audible groan erupts from the room)

Lead Referee: Don't start with that. You need to see this so you can improve!

(Shows final play of Seahawks/Packers game)

Lead Referee: Now who can tell me what the penalty was here?

Higgins (jumps up): Holding!

(Lead Referee grabs an eraser and throws it at Higgins)

Lead Referee: No! It's not holding! (Takes a swig from a hidden flask) Anybody else?

Montmorency (timidly raises hand): Pass interference?

Lead Referee: Offensive or defensive pass interference?

Montmorency (winces nervously): You mean there's...offensive pass interference?

(Loud confused murmur ripples through crowd)

Higgins: How can you have offensive pass interference? I mean, why would an offensive player try and get in the way of a pass coming in his direction?

Lead Referee (pinches the bridge of his nose): (to selff: They don't pay me enough for this.) Moving on! Who can show me what's wrong with this video?

(Plays video of a normal, non-penalized play)

Bostich: Nothing.

Lead Referee: Not true. You see this? (Points to referee next to Redskins' bench)

Bostich (looking nervous): I...I don't see anything wr-wrong there.

Lead Referee: No? Then explain why this referee is asking for an autograph from Robert Griffin III.

Bostich: (Looks sheepishly at Lead Referee): Because he's there?

Lead Referee (exhausted): Because...he's...there. And the idea that hounding players for autographs might make you appear less than objective never crossed your mind?

(silence)

Montmorency: Does this mean we can't display our fandom on Facebook?

Higgins: What about fantasy football? Can we make calls that would impact our fantasy teams?

(Crowd murmurs excitedly, chatting about how their team is doing so far)

Lead Referee: You could at least PRETEND to act like professionals out there! (Takes another swig) Maybe I'm overloading you guys. Let's start with a simple Q&A. How many timeouts is a team allowed during a game?

(Crowd offers random guesses, none of which are correct)

Lead Referee (nearly in tears): Stop. Just...stop. How many quarters are there in a game? Come on, you HAVE to know this one. Rieger! You can do it! Come on! I know you got it in you!

Rieger (stands and smiles proudly): Five!

(Lead Referee bangs head repeatedly on podium, careful not to spill from his flask)

Rieger (cont'd.): Because there's four quarters in a game, and one at the beginning to decide who gets the ball first. Did I get it right?

Lead Referee: Fine. Sure. Whatever. Five quarters. Right. Tell me, Rieger, where were you calling games before this?

(Rieger lowers head)

Lead Referee: Out with it, Rieger.

Rieger: Virginia, sir.

Lead Referee: High school?

Rieger: No, sir. Virginia Peabody's Montessori Academy.

Lead Referee: You were a ref for a day care?

Rieger: Yes, sir. I'm not used to all this hitting. Most games we played, every down ended with a hug, and sometimes a cookie.

Lead Referee (looks up at Rieger dully): I...see. You know what, you can keep on discussing this. I'm gonna go across the street, drink heavily, and contemplate a less stressful occupation, like Alaskan crab fishing. (shaking head) Where does Goodell find these guys?

Briggs: The answer is 12!

Lead Referee: Whatever you say. The meeting is adjourned.

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