Did the NFL do background checks on their replacement referees?

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Earlier today, we showed you an on-the-filed gaffe by replacement referee Craig Ochoa. The mistake was a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but with every misstep by these replacement referees comes more scrutiny. People will begin to wonder where these referees come from and if they’re qualified to do the job.

What we do know is where they’re not from. These referees are not Division I referees because Division I conferences have refused to allow their referees to “moonlight” in 2012. So these referees come from lower levels of football, which is okay to some extent. But what else do we know about them? More importantly, what else does the NFL know about them?

That question hadn’t been an important one until Mike Freeman of CBS Sports revealed two interesting stories about current replacement referees on his Twitter account. And what he revealed may shock you.

One of the replacement refs, a line judge working a game tonight, was fired from his job as a teacher after it was discovered he sent letters that contained scrawled threats and racist hate messages to co-workers. It was determined this line judge actually sent the racist cards to himself and others, so he could be transferred. Eventually, the school used a handwriting expert to determine the teacher wrote the notes, according to a published report.

That’s certainly not good. And it’s certainly something that would pop up if a thorough background check, complete with reference checking is done. But let’s just say that something like that easily slips through the cracks. One thing that shouldn’t is on the field performance. Freeman’s second story revolves around just that.

A second replacement official was at the center of what is considered one of the worst officiated Pac-10 games in that league’s history. USC-Stanford game in 2010. Late in the game, USC ahead. Close game. Official, now a replacement ref, forgot to start the clock. This allowed Stanford to get ball back sooner than it should have and they won the game. Writers covering the contest called it one of the worst officiated games they had ever seen.

Could you image this happening in a NFL playoff game? The controversy would be enormous. Yet, these are two examples of the type of referees that Roger Goodell has entrusted his game with.


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