Replacement referee laments 'demonization' by all


Life-long dreams weren't all they were cracked up to be for the replacement officials.

There was a collective sigh of relief from the football world as the previously locked-out officials returned to the field Thursday night. The crew even received a standing ovation from the M&T Bank Stadium crowd -- which was a ridiculously hilarious moment.

Debate: Asterisk on 2012 season?
The regular refs are back, but what are the replacements' lasting effects on Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the NFL? More ...

Jeff Sadorus told Sam Borden of The New York Times that three regular-season weeks as a replacement ref wasn't exactly what he expected.

"Honestly, sometimes during this whole thing, it felt like the national pastime in this country had changed from football to bashing replacement officials," said Sadorus, a former college official who worked as a field judge. "Everyone wanted perfection, but come on: The last guy who was perfect they nailed to a cross. And he wasn't even an official."

It was open season for blatant disrespect of the replacement refs by the media, fans, players and coaches. The replacement refs were under-qualified, thus put in a no-win situation. Outside of the obvious mistakes, er "Monday Night Football," every minute call was examined at length. Players and coaches knew they could intimidate the officials. Things got worse each week when I thought it would trend in the opposite direction.

It's hard not to have some sympathy for guys who realized a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, only to become a national joke. They didn't try to fail.

"Working these games was something I'd wanted to do forever," Sadorus said, "and there were some incredible moments. But there were also parts of this that I don't think anyone could have expected.

"We worked very, very hard. As demonized as we were, I hope people remember that we are people, too."

Follow Kareem Copeland on Twitter @kareemcopeland.