COLUMN: Will the real Ed Hochuli please stand up?



As much as I love a Lambeau Leap or a Bill Belichick cut-off hoody, there’s one more tradition in the NFL that I’m relieved is coming back this week.

Ed Hochuli’s Hulk-like arms signaling a first-and-10.

As more details emerge about how the deal came about, I’m sure that it was Hochuli’s arms that carried those negotiations to an agreement.

If you don’t know (and you should), Hochuli is a 61-year-old Arizona lawyer and part-time NFL referee. He’s one of the real refs.

And you can bet he hit the weight room last off-season.

Hochuli has been NFL referee No. 85 since 1990. Maybe “Hochuli” in some other language translates to Ochocinco.

In just a few weeks, the general incompetence of replacement referees seriously threatened the popularity of this NFL season. A poll by ESPN revealed that more than 76 percent of fans said the replacements reffed poorly. At least half of NFL fans said they would have watched less football had the replacement refs lasted through the season.

The poll revealed that 78 percent of fans disagreed with the final call of the Packers and Seahawks game on Monday night, in which Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate was awarded a touchdown on the game’s final play, giving the Seahawks a 14-12 win.

"The last time I talked about this, I said that we laughed at it,” said Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson. “Right now, Green Bay is not laughing.”

For fans that have neglected and questioned the importance of having quality referees, was your question answered?

Packers fans blitzed social media with rants and raves about calls in the game against the Seahawks that exposed the frustration and reluctance to having feeble replacement refs push forward a multi-billion dollar industry.

Avid NFL fans discussed the disaster of replacement referees’ bad calls as if it were something of a national disaster. Maybe it was, because President Barack Obama spoke about it.

“Anytime you have the President of the United States speak about something like that, then something needs to happen," said Miami Dolphins running back Reggie Bush, referring to a tweet from President Barack Obama on Tuesday saying he hoped to see the lockout end.

It may not be something that threatens national security, but what does the new agreement between the NFL Referees Association and NFL mean?

If another bad call is made, at least it’s made professionally.


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