A Look Back on the Worst NFL Replacement Refs Blunders

Ah justice! After eight weeks of torture having to watch these NFL replacement referees—or “refauxrees” as sports writer Jerry Thorton calls them—we no longer have to suffer as the owners and the legitimate NFL referees came to an agreement. Now that the referees are back we can all look back and laugh, unless you are a Green Bay Packers fan, at how ridiculous and just plain out bad these replacement refs truly were. Here are the top 5 blunders that the NFL replacement refs made throughout their time officiating.


5. Facing Away From Camera

In one of the more simpler and laughable mistakes that the replacement referee made throughout their short stay in the NFL, a replacement ref faces the wrong way when making a call showing his back to the camera.


4. Thrown Hat, Causing Player to Trip

During the Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers game a “ref” caused an incompletion by throwing his hat—for no apparent reason—into the end zone causing Dallas receiver Kevin Ogletree to trip, losing the ability to potentially make a touchdown catch. Normally a referee will throw their hat if a receiver steps out of bounds and then comes back inbounds and attempts to catch the ball—which is illegal—however you can see in the video that the receiver never comes near stepping out of bounds.

cowboys player slips on a banana peel hat


3. Extra 27 yards in Titans game

In week 3, during a shootout game in overtime between the Detroit lions and Tennessee Titans, the refs blew the game after calling a personal foul on the Detroit Lions (which is a 15 yard penalty). However they marked the ball incorrectly making it a 27-yard penalty allowing the Titans to kick the game winning field goal.

What should have been a 15-yard penalty against the Lions was marked off for 27 yards. It set up a game-winning Titans field goal


2. Player Safety

One of the biggest reasons that the owners and real refs came to an agreement was because of player safety. As you can see in the videos players were playing dirtier because they knew that they could get away it, as a result injuries like these occured.

darrius heyward bay hit

huge sean lee block gif


 1. Packer-Gate

The biggest and most scrutinized play of the replacement referees short-lived NFL career was the final play of the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks game. In  a primetime Monday Night Football game with millions watching Russell Wilson threw a hail mary into the end zone and what looked like a Packers interception was ruled a Seahawks touchdown. Not only did the referees miss a blatant pass interference call but   Golden Tate (Seahawks receiver) never came even close to having possession of the ball.


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