Replacement Official Speaks Out: "The Last Guy Who Was Perfect They Nailed To A Cross"

By the time the referee lockout ended last night, many of the scab replacements had become notorious for blunders or impropriety of some kind. Jeff Sadorus fell into that classification when reports surfaced 10 days ago that he had been a paid practice official for years with the Seattle Seahawks, which wasn't an issue until he proceeded to actually work the Seahawks-Cardinals game in Week 1.

Now Sadorus is speaking out, and he's given Sam Borden of The New York Times our first public glimpse as to what life was like as a scab ref. (Short version? Not good. At all.)

"My daughter found the ‘Call Me Maybe' video they did of us and showed it to me, and I had to laugh," said Jeff Sadorus, a former college official who worked as a field judge during the recent lockout of the N.F.L.'s regular officials. "Honestly, sometimes during this whole thing it felt like the national pastime in this country had changed from football to bashing replacement officials."

He added: "Everyone wanted perfection, but come on: the last guy who was perfect they nailed to a cross. And he wasn't even an official."

While employed by the league, the replacement officials were bound by its standard media policy, meaning they could not do interviews even as consternation over their performance grew. With the regular officials returning to work Thursday night, however, Sadorus - who also returned to his job, at a food services company near Seattle - described the up-and-down nature of his N.F.L. tenure in an interview with The New York Times.

There's a lot of great info in Borden's story, such as how much they got paid ($3,000 stipend per game), the kind of training they went through, and what it was like being one of the most hated people in America for a brief time. In the end, it's hard not to feel some kind of empathy for what these guys went through. Thrown into an impossible situation, they did their best, which clearly wasn't good enough by anyone's standards. Per the Times:

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Still, the league defended the replacements vigorously, and Sadorus said they were treated like the regular officials. They spent hours on weekly video review. They had conference calls with supervisors. They did refresher rules quizzes.

In the end, though, they were still skewered, somewhat souring an experience that should have been something closer to a referee's pinnacle.

"We worked very, very hard," Sadorus said. "As demonized as we were, I hope people remember that we are people, too."

The Washington Post also nabbed an interview with Mike Peek, a replacement official who worked Monday night's debacle between Seattle and Green Bay. Peek said the crew felt privileged to be able to work a Monday Night Football game, but that the end result was disappointing for everyone.

"When it goes to the end and it ended so ugly, I was more disappointed that we didn't live up to what I wanted us to live up to," Peek said by telephone Thursday, the lone official from the crew to speak publicly. "I wanted us to go out close to a 300 game, as a bowler would. You always strive to bowl 300, you always strive for perfection. I thought we were doing well until right there late in the game. I was just disappointed that we didn't bowl a 300 game."

Waking Up From a Dream After Weeks Full of Pinches [New York Times]
Replacement refs prep for post-NFL lives [Washington Post]