March 6, 2018 at 2:24 PM
Let’s get the snark out of the way right off the bat.
Ed Hochuli, perhaps the buffest referee in the NFL, is hanging up his guns, retiring from the game, which will now be much shorter because we won’t have to listen to him ref-splain plays ad infinitum. Also going off into retirement is Jeff Triplette, the referee fans loved to rip.
Replacing them will be Hochuli’s son, Shawn, a former back judge, and Alex Kemp, a former side judge.
Game-day officials aren’t really supposed to be stars, but Hochuli brought that quality to every game he worked, with the ribbing usually gentle when it came to his physique and a little more harsh when he started explaining.
He has been a referee since 1992, stepping up after two years as a back judge, and, in his spare time, is a practicing attorney, which is probably why his description of penalties often sounded like closing arguments. He refereed Super Bowl 32 and 38.
And then there’s Triplette, who became an NFL official in 1996 and a referee in 1999. On any given Sunday, though, fans could be flagged for piling on with every questionable call that came from his crew. In the Titans-Chiefs playoff game in January, Triplette and his crew were in the bull’s-eye, with fans on social media and Fox Sports commentator Mike Pereira, the former NFL head of officiating, calling out him and his crew for a botched call. “Horrible way to start the playoffs,” Pereira tweeted. “I hate to say it but this was not a good performance by the crew. Teams and fans deserve better.”
In the playoff game between the Falcons and Rams, it was left to NBC’s Al Michaels to speak for America as plays underwent excruciatingly long review (do they not have cable?) in the NFL’s Park Avenue headquarters and the verbose Hochuli was left to fill time. “One of the great things about the NHL,” Michaels pointed out, “is the last two minutes takes about two minutes.” Nor was that his only broadside. “I can’t figure out how this can take this long,” he said. “You saw it.”
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