Wednesday, we directed you to an ESPN.com Hot Read on replacement officials. Among other nuggets, Elizabeth Merrill and Wayne Drehs revealed that one former replacement official is back to his original job of working junior varsity eight-man football in Kansas.
Wednesday night, Showtime's "Inside the NFL" had two former replacement officials -- Wayne Elliott and Jim Core -- in studio for a fascinating 17-minute interview.
Elliott, of course, was in charge on that fateful Monday night when the Green Bay Packers lost 14-12 to the Seattle Seahawks on the final play. You can watch the entire video embedded in this post, but there were a couple of really interesting takeaways. Among them:
Elliott acknowledged that if he were one of the deep officials on the final play, he would "probably" have ruled the play an interception by Packers safety M.D. Jennings. Elliott said: "I learned a rule by screwing up a rule."
According to Elliott, officials were trained by the NFL not to call pass interference on Hail Mary plays. Elliott: "It was brought up that you don't really call interference on a Hail Mary. Deep officials were trained that during a Hail Mary, there are a lot of bodies in there, you just let it go." That's a sentiment we've heard often in the past few weeks. But the NFL later said Elliott and his crew erred by not calling offensive pass interference on Seahawks receiver Golden Tate.
Elliott's cell and home phones didn't stop ringing "for 72 hours" after the play, he said. There were "lots" of calls from Wisconsin numbers, he said, and he didn't answer them. One, however, came from Packers coach Mike McCarthy, who left a voice mail. Elliott: "He just had heard I was having a rough week and wanted to know that he thought what I did ... controversial, maybe he didn't agree with it, that I handled it with class. He has a home in Austin [Texas]. And he said it's always good to know another good Austinite. Just very classy." I second that. What a thoughtful move from McCarthy in the face of a lot of adversity.
When asked to share a story of on-field abuse, Elliott singled out Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. Elliott: "I had Jay Cutler, when we did not reset the game clock for him after a discussion among a penalty enforcement, call me a [expletive] replacement ref. [He said], 'just because you're a replacement ref, you've got to know the [expletive] rules.' Three minutes later during a timeout, I'm standing next to him. He's got some water. He said, 'Do you want some water?' I said, 'Yes, even though I'm an [expletive] replacement ref, I'll drink your water. He said, 'It's all I could say to get your attention.'"
Overall, this interview reminds us that the NFL's replacement officials are human. It reinforces the difficult position the NFL put them in, and justifies the wholesale direction of blame for the fiasco at the league and not the officials themselves.