Social media reacts to replacement refs

September, 17, 2012
Jim CoreEzra Shaw/Getty ImagesLet's hope NFL replacement ref Jim Core doesn't spend too much time on the Internet.
The NFL referee lockout continues, and it’s clear that fans are missing the sweet sound of Ed Hochuli’s whistle and his tight-fitting uni more than ever. On Sunday, Mike Shanahan seemed to spend more time coaching the refs than his own team.

Now fans are turning to the Internet in droves to express their discontent — to put it kindly — about some of the questionable calls. Twitter, Google and Yahoo! report a pretty staggering increase in NFL/referee chatter and searches. A number of parody accounts are also joining in on making fun of the replacement zebras (like @fauxjohnmadden, for example: “Crazy that the replacement refs haven’t used Siri yet to assist them on a close ruling.”) And the re-tweets are piling up.

This week, Yahoo! reports that popular searches include “NFL referee salary,” “NFL referee replacements” and “replacement refs" (that one was off the charts this week), while popular questions include “how much do NFL refs make?”; “why are NFL referees on strike?”; and “why are there replacement refs?” Personally, we’d like to know when we’re going to see our favorite officials back in action, but the answer to that is a bit more complex than an Internet search. ((

Here’s a glance at what’s going on, by the numbers:

680,000: Number of tweets about refs in the past month

170,000: Number of tweets about NFL refs in Week 2

100,000: Number of tweets about NFL refs in Week 1

50,000: Number of tweets about NFL refs on Opening Night

594: Percentage increase in Yahoo! searches for “NFL referees” this week, following a 1,239% increase last week

210: Percentage increase in Google searches for “replacement referees” during last month, with searches reaching a high Sept. 10, the day after the first full week of football. The search is particularly popular in California.

75: Percent of Sunday’s ref-related tweets that were negative (according to

26: Percentage increase in Yahoo! searches for “NFL referee lockout” this week, following a 149% increase last week

No matter whom you are rooting for, at least we can all rally around one thing: We want the old refs back.
Katie Linendoll is an Emmy Award-winning technology expert contributing to ESPN, and ESPN The Magazine. She contributes tech segments to CNN and hosts a tech show on Spike TV. She has a degree in Information Technology New Media from Rochester Institute of Technology and is a diehard Buffalo Bills fan.




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