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Volume 24 No. 156
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Throwing A Flag On The Play: Late-Night Talk Shows, "SNL" Roast Replacement Refs

The NFL signing a new CBA with the NFL Referees Association predictably was fodder for the late-night talk shows Thursday. NBC’s “The Tonight Show” took several shots at the league, with host JAY LENO saying in his opening monologue, “Coming into work today, I went through the drive-thru at Jack In the Box. They messed up my order, they gave me the wrong change. So I guess it's official: The replacement refs are back to their old jobs. … Last night, the NFL reached an agreement with real referees. Well, things kind of changed after that blown call last Monday night. Apparently negotiations went something like this: ‘Please come back! I beg you, please! Please! We promise we'll give you whatever you want!’ Are you happy the strike is over? It was horrible. Finally we can get back to the good old days of the NFL when it was players just getting arrested for drunk driving and selling drugs, shooting themselves in the legs.” Leno later noted that NFL Commissioner ROGER GOODELL “held a press conference to announce the return of the professional referees,” and the league “released this promo right before” the Browns-Ravens game Thursday. The “promo” had a voiceover saying, “After Monday night's Packers-Seahawks game, the NFL received 70,000 calls from fans complaining about the replacement referees. Well, Commissioner Roger Goodell heard you loud and clear, America. He's worked out a deal to bring the old refs back. So instead of those incompetent replacement refs blowing calls, you can look forward to these professional refs, the old referees. You wanted them. You got them. Only in the NFL.” During the promo, video was shown of the old officials falling down while placing the ball at the line of scrimmage, getting run over during a play and knocking a player down during another play.”

Neeson in the skit plays a replacement ref who is
on the phone with Packers coach Mike McCarthy

GOING HOLLYWOOD: Actor LIAM NEESON appeared on “The Tonight Show” to promote the upcoming release of “Taken 2,” but he also participated in a referee-inspired segment. Leno said, “The NFL referee strike ended, of course. The strike ended, what, yesterday? Already, Hollywood is making a movie about it. Well, here's the trailer.” The voiceover in the “trailer” said, “In June 2012, the NFL Referees Association and the NFL failed to come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement. As a result, low-level college and high school referees were brought in by the NFL to officiate games. The rest is history.” The next scene featured Neeson in a striped referees shirt and wearing a whistle, saying he was on the phone with Packers coach MIKE MCCARTHY. Neeson: “I don't know who you are or what you want. I don't really follow football. But what I lack are a very particular set of skills necessary for officiating a professional football game, a lack of skills that could make me a nightmare for people like you. Oh, also while I have you on the phone, do you know how a coin toss works?” The voiceover said, “This fall, Liam Neeson stars in ‘Mistaken’” (“The Tonight Show,” NBC, 9/27).

MORE MONOLOGUES: CBS’ DAVID LETTERMAN in his opening monologue said, “Phony referees gone, ladies and gentlemen. They were taking the place of the real referees and the phony referees were actually fathers of the NFL players that would take turns each game refereeing. But now the real referees are back, ladies and gentlemen. Ladies and gentlemen, who says the U.N. doesn't do anything? … You know, people are screaming about the phony referees. … I think they were unprofessional. Say what you will, they were trying as hard as they possibly could. But the phony referees, here's how unprofessional (they were): Early on -- in their defense I think this was an exhibition game, so it didn't count -- but I saw one of those stand-in referees -- here is how unprofessional -- I saw him send a drink over to a cheerleader” (“Late Show,” CBS, 9/27). ABC’s JIMMY KIMMEL said, “Some good news for football fans. Late last night, the NFL lockout is over. The refs will be back to work and I am happy to say, there will never be a bad call again. The new collective bargaining agreement is an eight-year deal. The referees got better pension, more money and most importantly, what they wanted more than anything, Sundays off. So we might still have a problem” (“Jimmy Kimmel Live,” ABC, 9/27).

NOT READY FOR PRIMETIME PLAYERS: NBC Thursday aired a “Weekend Update Special Edition” with “SNL” cast member SETH MEYERS reporting on the ref news, saying, “The NFL announced early this morning that they had reached a deal with officials ending the referee lockout. Well, it feels nice to say this again: ‘Good call.’ But the real question is what is the NFL going to do about the replacement cheerleaders?” Later in the broadcast, a skit aired for a new NBC show called “Replacement Refs.” The theme song was, “Replacement refs. They’re trying their hardest. What they lack in experience, they lack in decisiveness. You wanted the best but you’re getting replacement refs.” The refs introduced themselves, with one saying, “I'm Dave. I mean Steve. Dang it!” The first episode was called “Episode 42: The Trial.” The scene begins in a courtroom with the jury box consisting of the all replacement refs and after being asked if they have reached a verdict, the replacement ref jury foreman said, “Ummm, yeah, we feel good about it, yeah.” At this point, the defendant said, “I just want to reiterate what I’ve said every day of this trial: I killed those people and I’d do it again!” The replacement ref jury foreman, looking confused and indecisive, said, “Not guilty.” At that moment, another replacement ref juror throws a penalty flag (“Weekend Update Special Edition,” NBC, 9/27).