What did it actually feel like to go from total obscurity to blowing your first NFL whistle to realizing “WOW, this is real” to getting terrorized by enraged coaches and 300-pound linemen to becoming a national punch line to returning to total obscurity—all in just three short weeks? Nathaniel Penn sits down with six replacement refs (including a couple who worked the infamous Seahawks-Packers game) and gets an earful:
Elliott: In the replay booth, you could definitely see the Green Bay guy controlling the ball first and the Seattle guy getting his arms in there, and it was an argument for a simultaneous catch. The replay guy said, “We’re gonna have to go with ‘The play stands.’ ” I never knew life could be the way it was for the next week. I got, I would guess, 2,000 calls and texts on my cell phone from Wisconsin: “The best call you could make right now would be suicide.”
Peek: For probably three hours of that game, we had been doing a bang-up job, in my judgment. We wanted to bowl a 300 game. We got close to that 300 game, and then, in the last frame, we threw a gutter ball.
Brasuell: At San Francisco during halftime, when the security guys stepped out and faced the crowd, I said hi to one of them. He asked how I was doing, and I said I was thankful and blessed to be here, and he said, “Amen to that.” That had a huge impact on me. If the seven of us officials weren’t doing this, this man is out of work. It was a lot bigger than football.