The replacement refs are opening up about their experience in the NFL. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
NFL replacement refs Wayne Elliot and Jim Core opened up to Inside the NFL about life over the past few months, offering anecdotes about their conversations on the field with players to more serious talks about being trained not to call interceptions or pass interferences in hail mary situations.
Elliot, a real estate agent from Texas who has officiated high school, college and indoor football leagues, was the head referee for the now-controversial Seattle Seahawks-Green Bay Packers game. He made the announcement that the play stands after the Seahawks' Golden Tate caught the game-winning touchdown on a 24-yard pass from Russell Wilson, giving the team a last second win over the Packers in Week 3.
He and Core explained that they were taught by the officials who trained the replacement refs that there's a philosophy for every rule in the NFL. The philosophy regarding hail mary situations, they were told, is to not call an interception or pass interference. Instead, they were told to just let the play unfold because there's too many hands in the situation.
Elliot said that his cell phone wouldn't stop ringing for the 72 hours following his controversial ruling on the field, getting calls from hundreds of people reacting to the game-changing decision. Some of those callers, he said, told him to commit suicide. He said that "1 out of 100" thanked him for letting the play stand as a touchdown. After the game, Elliot described the refs' locker room as a "losing locker room." He admitted that after looking at the play several times, he would've ruled it an interception by the Packers, which would've ended the game as a loss for the Seahawks.
Core, a geography teacher at a middle school in Iowa, said he had received an e-mail in the spring, with about a week left of school, asking him if he wanted to apply to become an NFL replacement ref. He went ahead with the application because he said he had "tried to get up the ladder for a number of years and for whatever reason it wasn't happening."
Core, who last officiated the San Diego Chargers-Atlanta Falcons game, said that one of the Chargers approached him as the final seconds ticked off the game clock. The player, who Core did not identify, reportedly told him that in rating his performance as a replacement ref on a scale of 1 to 10, he was a "negative 10." The Falcons won the game 27-3.
Core also said that during a Bears game that he worked, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler reportedly called him an expletive to his face because he didn't reset the game clock. Core said Cutler later came up to him during a time out and told him that he called him that name because it was the only way he could get his attention, and then he offered Core some of his water. Core also said that the hardest coach to deal with during his short-lived time in the NFL was Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano. He said Schiano, who is in his first stint as an NFL head coach after more than two decades with college teams , is on "a different level" than other NFL coaches.
Footage of the interview with Elliot and Core can be seen here.