As NFL fans everywhere exhaled over the weekend thanks to the return of the regular referees, the replacement officials — who almost caused a national crisis — were able to fade back into obscurity.
Showtime’s Inside the NFL on Wednesday was able to speak with two of those replacement refs about their experience.
“I was glad to bring the nation together, I guess,” said replacement ref Wayne Elliott, whose day job is in real estate.
Elliott, who was part of the officiating crew in the now-infamous Monday Night Football Packers-Seahawks game, said his cellphone rang for about 72 hours after. Most of the calls were from unhappy Packers fans, with some including death threats. “I don’t know how [the cellphone number] got out, but it got out so fast… my reaction was to listen to them, laugh at them and then delete them.”
“It was like a losing locker room, very little conversation,” Elliott said of the officials’ demeanor following the game-ending call. “That game was life changing.”
When analyst Cris Collinsworth asked Elliott how he would call that final play (which was ruled a catch by Seahawks receiver Golden Tate) after seeing the reply, Elliott replied, “I’d probably call it an interception.”
The other replacement official interviewed for the piece, Jim Core, a middle school geography teacher in Boise, Id., called his experience positive. “In my opinion, it was a lot of fun from the very beginning to the bitter end.”
Core said he was first approached about being a replacement official in late May via email. Core, who had eight years of experience working Division II and III games, said it was a tough decision because it would forever brand him as a “scab” ref. Since college football officiating is controlled by the NFL referees, Core said that “we pretty much knew the advancement in our college career was over, had we signed on to that.”
You can view the full conversation here.