Now that the National Football League's regular referees have returned to the field -- they received a standing ovation before Thursday's game between the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns -- the replacement officials have the memories of working at the highest level. The memories aren't all good. To Jeff Sadorus, the experience includes dealing with "becoming a punching bag for bloggers and broadcasters, players and coaches, television animators and late-night talk show hosts," according to a New York Times report. "My daughter found the 'Call Me Maybe' video they did of us and showed it to me, and I had to laugh," said Sadorus, a former college official who worked as a field judge. "Honestly, sometimes during this whole thing it felt like the national pastime in this country had changed from football to bashing replacement officials." "Everyone wanted perfection, but come on: the last guy who was perfect they nailed to a cross. And he wasn't even an official." Sadorus described his three-week stint as "a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," but it also came with about four months of clinics, camps, exhibitions and games, along with the knowledge that every call would be subject to intense scrutiny. Sadorus earned $3,000 per game, plus a seemingly never-ending barrage of criticism from all sides, including on an episode of "South Park." The controversy came to a head in the closing seconds of Monday night's game between the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers, a blown call that likely led to a resolution. Sadorus received an email near the end of May from an area scout who was seeking potential replacements. Sadorus has worked in the Pacific-10 Conference until 2010. He then attended a rules clinic and fitness test, where replacement hopefuls were put through a rigorous test in difficult weather conditions to root out the best candidates. Nearly two months later, Sadorus was notified via e-mail that he had been placed on a replacement crew. He knows that becoming a replacement official may have strained relationships with regular NFL officials. "We weren't there to take anyone's job; we were there to provide a service," Sadorus told the paper. "The games were going to get done by someone. It's the old saying: without officials, it's just recess." In the end, Sadorus said, "We worked very, very hard. As demonized as we were, I hope people remember that we are people, too."
- National Football League
- Cleveland Browns