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.