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Saints-Rams officials harassed, had to change hotels after game

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The fan reaction to the Saints-Rams NFC Conference Championship was so bad, security had to switch the officials’ hotels and police had to help keep the crew safe Sunday night.

According to  Toronto Sun  reporter John Kyrk, the crew returned to their hotel after the game and were harassed in person and via their cell phones. The NFL moved the crew to another hotel for their safety. And, the article states there was heavy police presence at the hotel.

Despite the best attempts by NFL security to keep their officials’ contact information anonymous, enterprising, enraged Saints fans managed to find some crew cell phone numbers and then repeatedly called the officials to abuse them.  

I wish we could say that this new for NFL officials, but it isn’t.

There are several accounts in several books and media interviews where pro and college officials have to change their phone numbers every few years. Even though it was unlisted, fans somehow found the number and called to harass them, their spouse and their kids, or leave obscene and threatening voice messages.

Some fans even find where the official works during the week, then calls that work for more phone abuse.

There are numerous accounts of officials getting FBI protection or local police protection due to credible threats.

Pete Morelli had a brick tossed through the window of his house after a controversial playoff game between the Colts and the Steelers several years ago.

The late Jerry Bergman, Sr., had to have police watch his house and his family after he made a controversial call that the Buffalo Bills disagreed with.

Sadly, this comes with the territory when one is a major sports official.

But it shouldn’t have to come with the territory.

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Mark Schultz
Mark Schultz is a high school football official, freelance writer and journalist. He first became interested in officiating when he was six years old, was watching a NFL game with his father and asked the fateful question, "Dad, what are those guys in the striped shirts doing?"

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3 thoughts on “Saints-Rams officials harassed, had to change hotels after game

  1. This is the most meaningful missed call I can think of since the missed OPI on the Dallas hail mary of 1975.

    People are believing that officials are on the take. The integrity of the game is being questioned. This is some serious stuff.

    The NFL had better be paying attention. This is a big problem.

    They need to reevaluate the way they are hiring officials, starting with the main office. Replace Riveron with someone who is competent like Steratore or MacAulay and give them carte blanche to hire and fire anyone. The league has plenty of money to buy out contracts. There are probably 25 Hugos out there needing to be fired. The idea of tolerating weak officials has to end immediately.

    And, Cavaletto, Prukup and Turner have to be penalized severely for that missed call. They ruined this season. There will be an asterisk next to this season forever.

  2. New Orleans fans are mostly outstanding. Sadly, there are a few jerks (putting it very mildly) like those who threatened the officials, and those who kept trolling the Falcons for blowing the 28-3 lead two years ago. Yes, the no call was horribly wrong. But it does not justify going after other human beings. Those Saints fans who harrassed the officials need to be in the zoo with the real animals.

  3. I thought NFL refs fly back home after their games. Why would you ever hang around the city you just called in?

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