Well, this is just horrendous news. Here I was minding my own business and having a perfectly pleasant little Tuesday morning, still riding high from yesterday’s delightfully nonsensical Thom Yorke AMA on Reddit and my breakfast-of-champions combination of generic Honey Nut Cheerios and Mountain Dew. I was even thinking about humming a little ditty out loud before thinking better of it. As far as mid-February days go, this one’s going pretty well so far. There’s nothing that could possibly undermine its effectiveness or sabotage its entire identity with one fell swoop…
Oh hey, a new tweet from Adam Schefter. Let’s see what he has to say…
…Wait a minute, what?
*double-checks to make sure this isn’t Fake Adam Schefter*
What a sad day this has suddenly become. On the one hand, we all share in your joy, Alberto, as you climb the NFL corporate ladder and accept a most-deserving promotion that will give you and your family stability and the sweet comfort and assurance that you will never have to see Philip Rivers in person again. Perhaps you can continue your business as the leading storm panel salesman in south Florida as a labor of love? It would hurt us to think that some prospective buyers seeking shutters to keep their homes from getting blown the crap away by hurricanes would no longer be able to enjoy the taste of sweet Cuban pastries during their meeting with a more-than-qualified storm panel representative. But we understand if you’ve decided to leave that life behind you, Al.
On the other hand, your absence on the gridiron fields of autumn will leave a stalwart and no-nonsense hole in our hearts that will simply never be filled. For starters, the chances that the guy who is replacing you (former V.P. of Officiating Carl Johnson) won’t suck are extremely low. Fact is, you were one of the four or five referees in the league who were consistently competent at their job week in and week out over your five year tenure. That’s something to celebrate in and of itself! Carl Cheffers always looks like he’s crapping his pants whenever he makes an uncomfortable call against the home team. Clete Blakeman perpetually seems like he just started the job three days ago (can you believe he’s been doing this crap for THREE years already?). Ron Winter is senility personified. Scott Green and Jeff Triplette will lull you to sleep with two or three consecutive solid games, then completely zone out on the proper protocol for a down-by-contact ruling. Mike Carey and Ed Hochuli love the sound of their own voice more than anything in the world (except perhaps, in Ed’s case, for bicep curls). Jerome Boger is hopeless and the fact that he got the Super Bowl refereeing gig over you, Al, is a shame, a damn shame! And perhaps the worst of all of them is Walt Coleman, who’s been doing this for so long now that he ought to know this crap backwards and forwards but reviles in making bizarre and inane calls anyway. The man is pure evil. I can assure of this.
You on the other hand, Al? You were a beacon of integrity and testicular fortitude from the beginning. The games you refereed always had outstanding flow, never let the players turn the proceedings into a back-alley street fight and always felt like there was a strong hand firmly keeping the sanctity of the game in check. We may have disagreed on some calls from time to time, Alberto – particularly any call that went against the Bears – but we never doubted that you had made the best decision based on the information available to you at the time.
Sure, this blog’s championing of you as the great refereeing mastermind of our time had more than a little to do with your colorful pronunciations on your penalty announcements (“Fifteen yahd penalteee. Steel first down.”). To me, though, that was just another layer of your genius – not only could you properly enforce the rules of the game when the time arose to do so, but you can entertain and brighten the days of millions of Americans while doing so. Let’s see Gene Steratore or John Parry pull THAT off.
So we’re going to miss you, Alberto. We’re going to miss you a lot. The NFL refereeing fraternity lost one of its great members today and, to be frank, we’re not sure if they’re ever going to recover. But what we will always have – and what we will always share – are the memories. There is a place, on a football field located deep inside our hearts, where you will forever be conferring with your line judge to get to the right call. A place where you will forever be getting in the middle of post-play scrums and breaking up any funny business that may be occurring between Ray Lewis and Rob Gronkowski. And, most importantly, a place where there will forever be a personal foul and fifteen yard penalty…and still first down.