NFL 2012

The Packers-Seahawks Refs: Who Are Those Guys?
The stadium scene.
Sept. 25 2012 12:57 PM

NFL 2012

VIEW ALL ENTRIES

The Packers-Seahawks refs: Who are those guys?

Packers Seahawks Football
Officials discuss the final play of the game as Green Bay Packers' Charles Woodson, second from right, and Seattle Seahawks' Earl Thomas, right, leave the field.

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

This, to me, is the iconic photo of last night. More so even than the side judge signaling touchdown while the back judge waves his hands over his head. As the video booth checks the replay, the officiating crew gathers for what looks like a heated discussion. An argument, you might even say. The field judge (102) jaws with the line judge (59, number partially visible). The two officials who actually made the call are silent. The head linesman stands away from the huddle. The referee is nowhere to be seen.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about these replacement officials, be they formerly amateur, arena, or lingerie, is how little we know about them. In the old days, refereeing assignments would be announced a few days before the weekend—just another page in the media packet. But now that everybody wants to talk about the refs, and learn their backstories, the NFL has made that information a lot harder to come by.

Advertisement

We're used to checking FootballZebras.com for the crew assignments, but even they have been at a loss. "We are expecting to get the officiating assignments piecemeal," they have warned every week, and even now their Week 3 list has holes. (If anyone knows who refereed the Jags-Colts game, please let them know.)

Why does it matter? Accountability. For all their mistakes in the first two weeks, we have no idea if the NFL has been punishing those officials by reassigning them or releasing them. We have no idea if the NFL cares when these guys screw up, or are even paying attention.

And, of course, there’s the fact that outcomes worth hundreds of millions of dollars are being overseen by officials with less-than-comforting backgrounds.

Here are the men who called last night’s game:

R 28 
Wayne Elliott
U  
46 Marc Harrod
HL 77
Mike Peek
LJ 
59 Tom Keeling
FJ
102 Richard Simmons
SJ 26 Lance Easley
BJ  
84   
Derrick Rhone-Dunn
Alt       18
Joe Clark

Rhone-Dunn, the back judge who had the best view of the play and initially signaled interception, is the most experienced member of the crew. Formerly a Big 12 official, he worked the Sugar Bowl back in 2007 and arena games since then. Easley, the side judge who overruled Rhone-Dunn, is a banker from California, who has officiated high school and junior college games, both football and basketball. Elliott, the head referee who should have gotten his crew together and asked them what they saw before signaling for a touchdown, is a real estate agent in Texas who has worked high school, college, and indoor football.

This was the same crew for last week's Rams-Redskins game—one that got out of hand, and caused Mike Shanahan to tell reporters, "Never have I been involved in a game like this."

Will this crew be disciplined? Broken up? Sent to re-education camp to watch film, or docked salary, or let go altogether? We might never know. Because the NFL wants you to put your trust in it—even after a huge Saints fan was assigned to work a Saints game, and an official who drew paychecks from the Seahawks for three years worked a Seahawks game. I know what's best for the league, Roger Goodell whispers. Forget those silly questions about the refs, and while you're at it, forget about asking what the actual Bountygate evidence is, or what the league is doing about brain trauma. Trust the NFL.

TODAY IN SLATE

Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

Republicans Like Scott Walker Are Building Campaigns Around Problems That Don’t Exist

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

The Best Way to Organize Your Fridge

The World

Iran and the U.S. Are Allies

They just aren’t ready to admit it yet.

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

Chief Justice John Roberts Says $1,000 Can’t Buy Influence in Congress. Looks Like He’s Wrong.

A No-Brainer Approach to Fighting Poverty: Better Birth Control

  News & Politics
The World
Sept. 16 2014 11:56 AM Iran and the U.S. Are Allies Against ISIS but Aren’t Ready to Admit It Yet
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 16 2014 1:23 PM Germany Has Asked Google to Reveal Its Search Algorithm, but That's Not Going to Happen
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 15 2014 11:38 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 4  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Listen."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 1:27 PM The Veronica Mars Spinoff Is Just Amusing Enough to Keep Me Watching
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 1:41 PM You Can Play the Original Doom on a Hacked Canon Printer
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 16 2014 1:39 PM The Case of the Missing Cerebellum How did a Chinese woman live 24 years missing part of her brain?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.