Replacement referee Jerry Frump was interviewed by Time Magazine. He talks about how he became a referee in the first place and how the NFL prepared him for what could be argued as one of the most disliked moments in the history of American football.

I suppose you really felt bad for your colleagues when they blew a call, or there was one that was getting a lot of negative media attention. Again, everybody goes out there and they work hard, and we kind of stand side by side. When somebody makes a call, obviously, the microscope is very big at this level. I think the NFL in one of our conference calls indicated that “there will probably be no one in history has gone through such a high level of scrutiny, and the microscope has never been as big as it is on you guys at this time.” We went in with the media reporting that we’re everything from high school officials to almost no experience at all, and so the public’s perception of us was: These guys are just going to mess up the game, and they’re not qualified at all. You had to overcome that mindset that people had this negative opinion of you, so everybody worked hard to overcome that.

It’s just an uphill battle the whole way. It’s a no-win situation. We knew going in we were pawns. We were pawns for the union, we were pawns for the NFL. We just tried to make the best of an opportunity that was one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences – in my case, twice-in-a-lifetime experiences. It’ll be great memories to share with my grandson someday.

I’ve only watched one or two games this season and none of the calls made seemed so controversial. But I’ve seen some of the other questionable calls the day after – when everyone is a Monday morning quarterback. Clearly, some mistakes were made.

Still, it’s easy to feel bad for guys who were doing the best they could and getting unfamiliar attention for it. And let’s not forget the regular refs have made historically famous calls which were judged to be completely wrong the next day. Finally, very few critics would even do what the replacements signed up for in the first place. I hope this interview makes people think twice about the words they said.

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