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Sid Rosenberg: NFL refs have a brutal, thankless job

Then-Broncos head coach John Fox gets in the face of an NFL referee several years Getty Images

For as long as I can remember referees have been under scrutiny by players, coaches, and fans across the sports spectrum. Whether it be a peewee hockey game or a professional tennis match, somebody always seems to be upset the officials. To the fans, coaches, and players, officials are held to the highest of standards and are expected to be flawless.

There is no exception, and when referees happen to have a hiccup, the weight of the world is brought upon their shoulders. Imagine if that type of pressure was put on you everyday? It would drive me up a wall.

I have come a long way, but I can admit that I am not perfect. Professional players and coaches are paid millions of dollars but the officials are paid a mere fraction of that money. NFL officials, for example, are part-time workers. Most NFL officials have to work other jobs during the week to support themselves and their families. How can we hold these officials to such a high standard when they are not even able to solely focus on their jobs? Some NFL officials have to wake up the next morning and commute to work just like me and you. (By the way, riding the B train at 4 a.m. every morning to get in for Imus in the Morning is a hell of an experience. I would not recommend trying it.)

We know that no human being is perfect, yet when an official misses a call everyone and their mother attack them for being imperfect.[tab]Everybody knows that one parent or fan at the game that will let the official hear it when they blow a call.[tab]I think everyone needs to put themselves in the official's shoes and see it from their perspective.

We expect officials and refs to have their heads on a swivel, to not blink and see every player from every angle on every play. For professional officials, they are trying to keep up with the speed and strength of some of the most athletic people on the planet.[tab]Most officials look like they should be playing bingo at your local senior center.[tab]Yet we expect them to not only run up and down the field with guys like Adrian Peterson and Rob Gronkowski, but to also position themselves to make the correct call.[tab]If I could relate it to something, I would say being a referee on a single play during an NFL game is like trying to run on hot coals while reading a book, carrying a stack of plates and smoking a cigarette while getting punch in the ribs.[tab]Put simply, not an easy task to perform.

We have got to cut these officials and referees some slack. They are going make mistakes and we just have to live with the results. It undoubtedly has to be one of the most exhausting and stressful occupations out there - let's be happy it isn’t ours.

 
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