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Are they ready for some football?
September 27, 2012 12:26 PM   Subscribe

The NFL has reached an agreement with the Referee Union (NFLRA), guaranteeing regular refs will be calling games starting tonight. League commissioner Roger Goodell has formally apologized. The agreement comes on the heels of a blown call this past Monday. How do we know the returning refs won't be rusty? Ed Hochuli, arguably the most famous ref, has been holding weekly conference calls.

NFL video game Madden is rumored to be including actual ref likenesses in next year's game.

(Previously)
posted by troika (62 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
I can't decide whether I should throw a flag.
posted by box at 12:29 PM on September 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ode On Ed Hochuli.
posted by kmz at 12:32 PM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


More on Ed Hochuli.
posted by Madamina at 12:33 PM on September 27, 2012


While, I've been too busy with life to really pay much attention to the NFL this year, the lockout of the Referees has been really interesting because it's rare that you see a labor conflict like this illustrate that yes sometimes it really is worth it to pay skilled employees good salaries and benefits when the replacement for said worker is quite a marked decrease in quality to point of actually threatening to harm the overall brand.

I think it's also rare that it's so easy to look at a group of owners and really wonder why they really gave a shit. It's not like the NFL is hurting by any means and the overal cost savings just really didn't seem to be worth it. Sometimes reaching for every last ounce of profit can actually hurt you in the long run.
posted by vuron at 12:34 PM on September 27, 2012 [25 favorites]


This is great news!

Shamelessly stolen joke: This morning, I patted a little girl on the head who was walking by with her mother. A replacement ref saw me touch the girl, blew his whistle, and awarded me permanent custody.
posted by gauche at 12:34 PM on September 27, 2012 [13 favorites]


It also demonstrates the danger of replacing professionals with scabs – the replacement refs weren't merely the next tier down from NFL-level talent – all of those guys are actively working in NCAA Division I or the lesser pro leagues. These were guys who did high school games, or were fired from the Lingerie Football League.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:36 PM on September 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Good to see Scott Walker finally standing up for organized labor.
posted by mullingitover at 12:39 PM on September 27, 2012 [8 favorites]


Except that this is another instance of the union changing the rules for future members (401k after 2016 instead of guaranteed pensions). And as vuron said, the refs clearly displayed why they're worth what they're worth by contrast with the alternative. So, while the problems may have been settled, I'm not so sure the refs won this fight and the NFL owners continue to make money hand over fist by being money-grubbing bastards.
posted by kokaku at 12:39 PM on September 27, 2012 [10 favorites]


The guy who actually blew the call, a Bank of America VP, was deemed unfit for Division I football.
posted by troika at 12:42 PM on September 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


for the owners, this has never been about the refs. this is the precursor to the next fight with the players' union. we're talking about miniscule amounts for the refs, but when you start looking towards the long term healthcare on guys like ray lewis, it gets a lot more expensive.

i know everyone keeps focusing on monday's blown call, but that's only part of what ended this - to me, the more damning part was where the refs gave extra time outs and challenges and spotted the ball 7 yards away from where it was supposed to be. the big error on monday is the sort of thing the regular refs could (and do) get wrong. they don't often get the procedural calls wrong though and they rarely miss the sort of vicious hits that became common place by week 3.
posted by nadawi at 12:46 PM on September 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


> I can't decide whether I should throw a flag.

If you flag this as an awesome post and I flag it as offensive, we'll pretty much have the replacement refs experience covered.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:48 PM on September 27, 2012 [11 favorites]


Even if the returning refs are rusty (which seems unlikely), they've still got to be an improvement over refs who were fired for incompetence from the fucking Lingerie Football League. I mean, the LFL issued a statement saying that they fired these refs in order to keep their game credible and their athletes safe. The LFL thought that they were losing credibility by keeping these refs on! And the NFL hired them! The mind boggles!
posted by asnider at 12:48 PM on September 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you flag this as an awesome post and I flag it as offensive, we'll pretty much have the replacement refs experience covered.

Not until I go back and flag that first post about the lockout as a double.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:50 PM on September 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


troika: "The guy who actually blew the call, a Bank of America VP, was deemed unfit for Division I football."

That... that explains a lot.

I usually don't give a fuck about football but my friend (Packers fan, since we're from WI) showed me and my response was "The 'hawks won like GWB won in 2000"
posted by symbioid at 12:51 PM on September 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


ed hochuli is no doubt awesome, but i'm eager to see mike carey again. wait - do you not know how awesome mike carey is? well - let me show you - here he is telling favre his age and with that in mind, here he is taking on the philadelphia eagles.
posted by nadawi at 12:54 PM on September 27, 2012 [17 favorites]


I still have nightmares about blowing a call when I was enlisted to line ref at one of my little brother's soccer matches. I'm not surprised that the scab-refs sucked. It's nice to see unions having some success.
posted by polyhedron at 12:54 PM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Things I learned: there actually is a Lingerie Football League and people in this thread weren't just making it up.
posted by Zed at 12:56 PM on September 27, 2012 [17 favorites]


I'll be expecting all the relieved fans to follow up: now go to your kid's school districts and keep the pressure on for teachers' unions. Yeah, I know - only so many hours in the day.
posted by j_curiouser at 12:58 PM on September 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


No shit. I was once dragooned into umpiring duties for one of my stepsister's softball games. I'm going to say she was twelve-ish and I was probably fifteen or sixteen. It was so. much. pressure. I really felt quite bad for the replacement officials -- I'm sure they were doing their best, but they were just placed into a job they were not qualified for.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:58 PM on September 27, 2012


well, they volunteered for a job they were not qualified for. it wasn't conscripted service.
posted by nadawi at 1:01 PM on September 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'd like to the thank the replacement refs from Monday night: I wouldn't have won my fantasy match-up without them. Now, what am I going to do?
posted by Mojojojo at 1:07 PM on September 27, 2012


Great, there goes Cleveland's chances of winning tonight.
posted by charred husk at 1:16 PM on September 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


nadawi: well, they volunteered for a job they were not qualified for. it wasn't conscripted service.

Sure, but it's hard to fault someone for chasing their dream, especially for guys who were on their way down the officiating ladder. There are a lot of jobs that I am not qualified for that I would accept in a heartbeat, just so I could give it a shot. NESN, if you are looking for a new play-by-play guy, give me a call.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:18 PM on September 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm glad this is all over, but I can't say I have a lot of respect for the players from this mess. We all know this negotiation wasn't really about the referees, but rather was the owners way of demonstrating to the Players Association that they are prepared to play hardball over a new contract for the players.

Since the refs were carrying this fight on behalf of the players, the players really owed them more support. I realize they have a no-strike clause in their contract (though by week 2, very real safety concerns could have given them an out) and that the league can fine them for disparagement, but the real outrage and protest from players didn't come until after the Packers-Seahawks fiasco. It would be one thing to expect the players to support their "brother union," but when the refs were basically fighting the players' battle for them, the players owed them as much support as practical.
posted by zachlipton at 1:30 PM on September 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


I once was a basketball score keeper for the 4th grade girls' B team that my brother coached, and I handled it with no problem at all. Then again, the score was 8-0. Strangely, it was the most exciting basketball game I've ever seen. The ball would roll around on the rim and people were screaming for it to drop in.
posted by msalt at 1:37 PM on September 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I take credit for ending this lockout, as I wrote this palindrome yesterday commanding the owners to vote for a settlement:

We tire, vomit ire. Vote! Go golf, NFL. O, go. Get over it. I'm over it. Ew!
posted by msalt at 1:39 PM on September 27, 2012 [25 favorites]


We tire, vomit ire. Vote! Go golf, NFL. O, go. Get over it. I'm over it. Ew! - msalt

Beautiful.
posted by stubie at 1:44 PM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Am I the only one who wants "Fired from the Lingerie Football League" to become a new cliche for "incompetence?"
posted by Tomorrowful at 1:57 PM on September 27, 2012 [13 favorites]


Oh heavens how do I love this news! This weekend was particularly lovely weather and on Sunday we had all the windows down when we started watching the Titans play Detroit. After the first three blown calls, I shut the window closest to our neighbor's house because they have a young son. I'm sure, what with the father being a police officer, the boy has heard some foul language before, but that's no reason for his delicate little ears to be bombarded with the profanity my husband and I were spewing at the replacement refs.

By overtime, we'd pretty much exhausted ourselves and could only mumble "what the fuck?" periodically.

I really don't think either one of us could take another week of bad calls, missed calls, and outright what the fuck moments that the replacement refs gave us.

Welcome back Ed and Mike. You were deeply, deeply missed.
posted by teleri025 at 1:59 PM on September 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


While, I've been too busy with life to really pay much attention to the NFL this year, the lockout of the Referees has been really interesting because it's rare that you see a labor conflict like this illustrate that yes sometimes it really is worth it to pay skilled employees good salaries and benefits when the replacement for said worker is quite a marked decrease in quality to point of actually threatening to harm the overall brand.

I remember during the summer when I first started hearing about the refs holding out, and that there might be a lockout. Until the games started, all I could think was 'how in the world are they taking themselves seriously? There are hundreds of refs at the college level that would jump at the NFL, the difference from college to NFL can't be that challenging.'

Boy was I wrong.
posted by DynamiteToast at 2:01 PM on September 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Except that this is another instance of the union changing the rules for future members (401k after 2016 instead of guaranteed pensions).

Given the way "guaranteed" pensions are treated by the courts, it's not clear this is a disservice.

Since the refs were carrying this fight on behalf of the players, the players really owed them more support.

I'm a big NFL fan, but I would have been fine with the players taking a knee on every play.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 2:02 PM on September 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


if they would have done that against tampa bay, the defense would have rushed them (man, i can't wait for someone to draw up a trick play from the V and stuff and unnecessary touchdown in TB's face).
posted by nadawi at 2:04 PM on September 27, 2012


Given the way "guaranteed" pensions are treated by the courts, it's not clear this is a disservice.

As I once remarked to a friend of the family who works in HR and was using me as an Example of my Generation: "If you give me the choice between a defined-benefit pension and a five-dollar bill, I'll take the five bucks. It's more likely to be worth something in forty years."
posted by Tomorrowful at 2:04 PM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


There are hundreds of refs at the college level that would jump at the NFL, the difference from college to NFL can't be that challenging.'

Boy was I wrong.


Thing is, the NCAA refs were advised that any who crossed picket lines and went to the NFL would lose their positions as NCAA refs. So all the actually qualified college refs didn't even try.
posted by teleri025 at 2:04 PM on September 27, 2012 [8 favorites]


Public unions and private unions are different creatures, so I don't think it's relevant to criticize Walker or the fellow parents at your kids' schools for wanting a sports league strike to end but not supporting public union collective bargaining rights.
posted by resurrexit at 2:06 PM on September 27, 2012


And that is why msalt is an award winning palindromist.
posted by ocherdraco at 2:13 PM on September 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


The deal was struck two days after Seattle's chaotic last-second win over Green Bay in which the replacements missed a call.
I thought about popping into the other thread and saying, "See? Refs are talent too!" Sadly, I forgot. So, I'll say it here instead.

Refs are talent too! They should be spoiled a little, just like the players. If what they want is defined-benefit retirements, then with the kind of money the NFL makes, that should not be an obstacle.

The refs screwed up badly in one area: they should have held out for defined benefits for the new guys, too. It's that old thing of climbing the ladder, and then pulling it up behind you.
posted by Malor at 2:18 PM on September 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Public unions and private unions are different creatures,

No they aren't. The government is just another employer. Not allowing public-sector unions is abusing their special status as lawmakers.
posted by Malor at 2:19 PM on September 27, 2012 [11 favorites]


A casino sports book operator and other gambling experts told CNNMoney Tuesday that there's a risk fans will pull back on their football betting.
"Controversy is just not good for our business," said Jay Kornegay, vice president of race and sports book operation at The Las Vegas Hotel and Casino. "When you are taking wagers on any event, you want it black or white. You don't want any gray areas."
...
"America loves football and loves betting on football," he said.

The blown call did help casinos and bookies in one way: Kornegay estimates as many as 85% of bettors were betting on Green Bay. The blown call meant a big win for those taking the bets.
Kornegay estimates there was between $12 million to $15 million legally wagered on Monday's game. And estimates are that the legal football bets in Nevada make up only 1% to 2% of the money wagered on football nationwide.
Tuesday. The bookies freaked out.
posted by carsonb at 2:28 PM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


They certainly are different. For the most part, the public sector has a monopoly on the services it provides, and the public sector provides most of the critical services relating directly to day to day life.
posted by Chuckles at 2:29 PM on September 27, 2012


And I'm pro union, for the most part :P
posted by Chuckles at 2:29 PM on September 27, 2012


But the government isn't “just another employer.” They have no profit motive and priorities are set by legislators rather than any kind of market mechanism. They have a legally protected monopoly for critical services. Yes, an employee is an employee whether they work for the government or the private sector, but the incentives on the bosses' side are completely different.

That's not to say public-sector employees don't need unions, but the relationship between management and labor is a separate animal entirely from what exists in private businesses.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:32 PM on September 27, 2012


Private companies dealing with their employees who belong to private unions are beholden only to the private companies' owners or shareholders. There is a true adversarial process there, becausee there is a tension between the shareholders/owners and the employees. On the other hand, governments negotiating with public employee unions are beholden to the unions whose political clout gets them elected to run the government. There is an inherent conflict of interest because there is no true, consistent adversary present at the table, which would be a taxpayer representative.
posted by resurrexit at 2:34 PM on September 27, 2012


They certainly are different. For the most part, the public sector has a monopoly on the services it provides, and the public sector provides most of the critical services relating directly to day to day life.

In this case, the NFL has an effective monosopy: they are the only buyer, at present, for high-level football skills. So if you want to play/referee football for a living, at the highest level, there is no alternative employer than the NFL. (Yes, technically you work for one team or another if you're a player, but it's really not even remotely a free market in the sense that, for example, I can go peddle my software skills to any number of companies.)
posted by Tomorrowful at 2:47 PM on September 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


there is no true, consistent adversary present at the table, which would be a taxpayer representative.

Yes there is. Elected members of parliament are taxpayer representatives. What alternative method of representing taxpayers are you proposing?

If you're afraid that politicians are sometimes corrupt or beholden to special interests, well, that's part of the reason why we need public sector unions. They introduce a bit of inertia into the way governments treat their workers, preventing the government of the day from abruptly changing compensation and working conditions for ideological reasons.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 3:01 PM on September 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Tuesday. The bookies freaked out.

There's a conspiracy theory for you -- the owners would never have settled until the serious Vegas guys started losing money. A phone call was made, and the lockout ended tout suite.
posted by msalt at 3:13 PM on September 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


resurrexit: "On the other hand, governments negotiating with public employee unions are beholden to the unions whose political clout gets them elected to run the government."

Weird. I thought it was voters who got them elected.
posted by mullingitover at 3:18 PM on September 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


An argument for why that call was correct
posted by victory_laser at 3:43 PM on September 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


Ah, the feet touching first, that's a great angle I hadn't seen mentioned elsewhere yet.
posted by resurrexit at 4:40 PM on September 27, 2012


How many of our labor and tort problems would go away if we just had a function single payer health care system?
posted by bottlebrushtree at 4:42 PM on September 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


^functional
posted by bottlebrushtree at 4:42 PM on September 27, 2012


No one's linked the animated GIF of that call yet?

Although I was sad to see that SB Nation updated it in the intervening time period; originally it was just the two refs waving their arms two different ways; now it has annoying text superimposed and slow-motion and everything. I wish I'd saved the original.
posted by limeonaire at 4:47 PM on September 27, 2012


Deadspin's Tommy Craggs, as usual, gets to the heart of the matter:
The NFL locked out its referees in the name of taking away their pensions. It was not that the pensions were a threat to the longterm fiscal survival of the league—again and again, we were reminded that the sums involved were pocket change in a growing, multibillion-dollar enterprise. It was that the pensions existed at all. The mere existence of a defined-benefit retirement plan offended an ownership class that had looked around and seen that every other business owner in America had already broken that particular contract. The referees' old deal was deemed insufficiently hard-edged or market-driven. That was the most vulgar thing about the lockout. It was a matter of ideological purity. It was … aesthetic.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 4:55 PM on September 27, 2012 [19 favorites]


From the first link:
The current defined benefit pension plan will remain in place for current officials through the 2016 season (or until the official earns 20 years of service). The defined benefit plan then will be frozen.

» Retirement benefits will be provided for new hires, and for all officials beginning in 2017, through a defined contribution arrangement, which will have two elements: an annual league contribution made on behalf of each game official that will begin with an average of more than $18,000 per official and increase to more than $23,000 per official in 2019, and a partial match on any additional contribution that an official makes to his 401(k) account.

» Apart from their benefit package, the game officials' compensation will increase from an average of $149,000 per year in 2011 to $173,000 in 2013, rising to $205,000 by 2019.

» Beginning with the 2013 season, the NFL will have the option of hiring a number of officials on a full-time basis to work year-round, including on the field.

» The NFL will have the option to retain additional officials for training and development purposes and can assign those additional officials to work NFL games. The number of additional officials will be determined by the NFL.
Aren't those terms pretty much what the NFL was asking for before the lockout?
posted by notyou at 4:57 PM on September 27, 2012


Weird. I thought it was voters who got them elected.

Well, it'd be nice if money didn't buy elections, sure.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:58 PM on September 27, 2012


Aren't those terms pretty much what the NFL was asking for before the lockout?

Apparently the refs' union borrowed Obama's negotiators.
posted by kokaku at 5:18 PM on September 27, 2012


It'll be good to have the real bums back on the field instead of the horrible replacement bums who made bad calls in every game.
posted by ob1quixote at 6:11 PM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Including myself, I don't think most people understand how pension funds work. From my limited understanding, a fully funded pension fund means that if every member of the plan were to retire at the same time, all the benefits would be covered 100%. How often does the entire GM workforce retire on the same day?
posted by Brocktoon at 9:02 PM on September 27, 2012


So nice to see the League lose control of the narrative. It's like Halley's Comet. You don't see it much.
posted by Trochanter at 6:53 AM on September 28, 2012


I've always respected the officials. My dad taught me why I should not be so hasty about booing calls: 1) they've been trained in this; you haven't; 2) they have a better view than you do; and 3) they literally carry the rules around in their back pockets. (Maybe that last one isn't true, but still.) B

But these replacement refs were a joke. I'm glad the regular refs got an ovation upon their return. They work harder than anyone gives them credit for, they put up with all the shit we fans give them, and they're pretty damn accurate.
posted by grubi at 9:26 AM on September 28, 2012


In case anyone wants to see the Hochuli guns for themselves, according to FootballZebras.com he's officiating the Bengals-Jags game this week.
posted by troika at 9:53 AM on September 28, 2012


victory_laser: an argument for why that call was correct

Actually, Tate having simultaneous possession with both feet down in the end zone doesn't end the play, since he went to the ground in the process of the catch. He must maintain control all the way through that, and he doesn't (based on the photo that the link is decrying about "5 seconds later").

Further, simultaneous possession isn't reviewable in the field of play, but it is in the end zone. Even though Tate was ruled to have simultaneous possession, he didn't control the ball on the way to the ground (Jennings takes it away), and the referees could have overturned the ruling of simultaneous possession if they wanted to. The referees thought that they couldn't, so they didn't.

That being said, since it was ruled a TD on the field, I am sort of glad that they didn't overturn the call, being in the Seahawks stadium. That may have caused a crazy riot, where fans actually got hurt. I say this as a life-long, rabid, insane, out-of-his-mind Packers fan.

The true egregious call is a few plays before that with the phantom PI call on Shields covering Tate along the sideline. Tate manhandles Shields; Shields was looking up at the pass the entire time, gets called for PI. Unbelievable.

Also, the punk (Brower, I think) who took (Greg) Jennings' head off about 20 yards downfield should have been ejected from the game.
posted by King Bee at 2:02 PM on September 28, 2012


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