On the Replacement Referee Team, you'll meet interesting people like game-night motivational speaker John Fox of the Denver Broncos. You'll get to watch some of the country's most popular divas, begging for interference calls after they fail to catch a perfect pass. And, if you're really lucky, you'll run into Jon Gruden as he walks out, shaking his head in disgust and muttering something about calling the sheriff.
All you need to do to join the Replacement Referee Team is pass the following test. There are even some true or false questions to better prepare you for the guessing you're going to be doing on the field.
1. A receiver is hit more than five yards beyond the line of scrimmage by a defensive back. True or false: You should throw your flag, pick it up, throw it back down and assess the defense an 11-yard penalty.
(Answer: False. Illegal contact is always a 13-yard penalty, we're pretty sure.)
2. Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has the football, with the clock stopped. He takes the snap and spikes it to stop the clock. You should A) Signal loss of down, B) Call a “delay of delayed game” penalty, or C) Wonder what Peyton would do.
(Answer: C. Everything in Indy relates to Peyton.)
3. You call a “12-men on the field penalty” on the Denver Broncos. Broncos coach Fox goes ballistic and pulls out his red challenge flag. You should A) Signal for the video review, B) Pick up the flag and wipe your face of Fox's projectile saliva, or C) Say, “Come on, man, give me a break and challenge a real play.”
(Answer: All of the above, plus request a new challenge flag from stadium personnel.)
4. You see a "Jumbotron" video replay of the pass interference call you just made on Ike Taylor. Turns out he wasn't even in the same camera shot as Santonio Holmes. True or false: You should run out of the stadium tunnel and not stop until you're back at your middle-school athletic director's desk.
(Answer: False. You should grab your keys and drive there.)
5. A punt is caught at the five-yard line. You inadvertently signal a touchback. The crowd begins to boo and jeer. True or false: You should turn on your game microphone and apologize for the mistake.
(Answer: False. You should turn on the mic and say, “Just kidding!”
6. After a fumble, players from both teams jump on the ball. A scrum ensues. To gain control of the situation, you should A) Blow your whistle, throw your penalty flag and call several personal fouls, B) Ask both coaches, politely, “Could you ask your players to calmly return to their respective sidelines” or C) Look to the sky and whine, “What did I ever agree to this?!?”
(Answer: B. The coaches are on your side and there to help.)
7. After throwing a penalty flag, you begin to announce the penalty on your live mic. However, you forget the teams that are playing. You should say the penalty is on: A) “Red, No.53,” B) “The guy on that side of the field, No. 53,” or C) “To be honest, I forget why I threw the flag.”
(Answer: B. That's much more helpful for the colorblind viewers at home.)
8. The NFL calls and offers you the chance to referee the New Orleans Saints game. You are a big Saints fan, with a Facebook page to prove it. You should say: A) “Sorry, that's a conflict of interest, B) "Be sure to follow me on Twitter at SweetBrees," or C) “Who dat, who dat, who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints?”
(Answer: C. Unless the media finds out, the NFL won't be paying attention anyway.)
9. You accidentally call the “2-minute warning” with 2:05 left on the clock. True or false: To fix this error, you should gather fellow officials, talk about it for approximately five minutes, then say, “Close enough.”
(Answer: False. The standard replacement ref huddle time is six minutes.
10. If you are hired by the NFL for the Replacement Referee Team and it's clear you don't have the adequate skills to control an NFL game, the NFL will A) Find you an equivalent job as a substitute teacher, B) Give you a going-away hoodie with the NFL logo, or C) Issue a statement saying “You're doing a fantastic job.”
(Answer: C. But if you get a chance, ask for the hoodie.)