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DeFranks: Welcome to the gun show (Sept. 28)

Matthew DeFranks | Friday, September 28, 2012

Forget the Seattle-Green Bay debacle and Golden Tate’s catcherception. Forget the abundance of pass interference calls and the lack of illegal shift whistles. Forget the actual calls the referees have made. People are forgetting what we have all been deprived of – the officials themselves.

No, I’m not talking about their wealth of football knowledge or all their correct calls. I’m talking about their overenthusiastic penalty calls, their comically unathletic moves and their overall personality. When the NFL and the real referees agreed to a deal Wednesday night, the true winners were not the coaches, players, owners, or referees. The fans really won – but because we get to laugh at the referees’ antics instead of cringe at the replacements’ incompetence.

In honor of the referees that will return for the fourth week of the season, here are my four favorite NFL referees.

No. 4. Ron Winter

Winter may be one of the more nameless and faceless of the zig-zaggin’ zebras but that doesn’t mean he isn’t one of the more entertaining officials. In 2011, Winter found himself buried in a pile like a sidewalk under snow after a fumble bounced his way. Despite his best attempts to get out of the way of the seemingly imminent pile up, Winter ended up on his back, fighting for breaths as much as the players were fighting for the ball. Plus, you’ve got to respect a man who explains the new overtime rules to players using phrases like “entitled to an opportunity to possess the ball.”

No. 3. Jerome Boger

Oh, Jerome of the famous hey-look-it’s-Vince-Young-and-I-feel-bad-for-him-so-let-me-give-him-a-high-five controversy from 2009. Give the man a break for not leaving Young hanging. Sheesh, refs can be good guys, too. Boger’s penalty delivery is also spectacular. Whether it’s a holding penalty or a personal foul called on the wrong team, Boger allows his twang to escape. But the twang giveth and the twang taketh. His slight accent allows the crowd to get a true taste of who he is but also keeps him from completing some words like ball, which comes out as “baw.” Nevertheless, no one should be challenging Jerome Boger at No. 3 – even if they have timeouts left.

No. 2. Mike Carey

Mike Carey is the Ron Cherry of the NFL. It’s just that plain and simple. Cherry is known for his “givin’ him the business” call while Carey can break up fights by pushing Philadelphia Eagles around. Plus Carey’s emphatic penalty calls are so dangerous, they should come with a five-yard warning. When Carey announces a foul, he’ll do a softball-like arm movement that stops midway through, almost as if someone in the upper deck desperately needed directions to an end zone. Given the amount of penalties per game and per year, it’s a physical marvel Carey still has both of his rotator cuffs.

No. 1. Ed Hochuli

Many of you reading this may be confused as to who Ed Hochuli is. Let me clear this up for you, his name is ‘Guns’ and he’s not afraid to use them. The 60-something Arizona lawyer probably had a better reaction to the lockout’s end than anyone out there – he did pushups … as if his arms needed more volume. When he signals touchdown, it looks like he’s flexing his massive triceps. He’s not. The biggest travesty of this referee lockout was that we went three warm weather, short-sleeve weeks without Guns. Hochuli also is one of the best officials in the game, if that counts for anything. He’ll apologize to a crowd when he messes up and getting him to call your game is a special bonus. It’s kind of like when an extra onion ring gets thrown in with your French fries – just because Hochuli ain’t no small fry.
So when you watch the games Sunday, enjoy the correct calls, the silence of complaining media members and, of course, the personalities.

Contact Matthew DeFranks at mdefrank@nd.edu

The views expressed in this Sports Authority are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.