For the past three weeks, these poor guys have been bloodied. They've been battered and bludgeoned. They've been abused more than a dog whose tag is etched, "Property of the Romney Family. If found, please hose off and return."
The National Football League Referees Association has been on strike for the first three weeks of the NFL season, holding out for the guaranteed pensions that team owners would like to eliminate in favor of a defined contribution, or 401k, plan.
While I won't delve to deeply into the muck of this labor dispute, it is curious that the lords of a nine billion dollar industry have chosen to embed their diamond spurs over $3.3 million. According to my calculations, that's approximately bullshit point four five seven percent of the league's annual revenue.
And because these millionaires and billionaires can't seem to defibrillate their own blackened hearts, a motley assortment of replacements have crawled up through the cracks, wearing black hats and white knickers, to officiate America's premier spectator sport.
In the words of Homer Simpson, "Those refs sure did suck last night! They just plain sucked. I've seen refs suck before, but they were the suckiest bunch of sucks that ever sucked."
Or something like that.
As recently as Monday night, my Seattle Seahawks benefited from a grossly botched ruling on the game's last play to defeat the storied Green Bay Packers. Although the Packers were justified in their outrage, there's something unappealing about huge dudes who resemble superheroes whining like my kids when they're told to go back and wipe a little better.
Bad call aside, I enjoyed watching the disciples of St. Vincent de Lombardi suck on a sour grapcicle.
And what did we expect? Our lives are crammed with experiences involving impostors and charlatans, imitations and pretenders, especially when we're kids.
I remember entering my third grade classroom one morning and there stood a strange lady scrawling "Mrs. Priqué" on the blackboard? Once we were all seated, her fakey teacher voice boomed for the first time: "Good morning, class. Mrs. Henderson was feeling under the weather this morning, so I'll be filling in today. My last name is pronounced 'Prick-ay.' No other pronunciations are acceptable, ladies and gentlemen. If you happen to mispronounce my name, you'll be corrected and given a warning. If you do it again, you'll be sent to the office."
I was a fairly well-behaved kid, but as we know, all bets are off when the sub shows up. I considered it a great opportunity to channel Colonel Kurtz from Apocalypse Now, and since I'd been given one free pass, it was time to stir up a good laugh from my fellow nine-year-olds. I raised my hand.
"Yes...let's see...Tim, do you have a question?"
"Can I go to the bathroom, Mrs. Prick?"
The class erupted. Miss Prique wrote down my name on the board and probably still hates me.
Kids have to deal with other below-par choices, too. Since they don't have the means to select their own food, they're constantly bombarded with inferior substitutes for the good stuff:
"No, it's not an Oreo, it's a Hydrox. But they taste the same."
No they don't.
"No, it's not Heinz ketchup, it's Hunts 'Catsup'. But it tastes the same."
No it doesn't. And I know you added water to it, Grandma. For God's sake, this isn't the Depression anymore.
And why was it that a company called Dolly Madison made the exact same stuff that Hostess made, only much worse tasting? Plus, they only advertised during Charlie Brown specials. I took the bait once, but after barely choking down a Zinger, I returned on bended knee to my steady girlfriend, the Ding Dong.
So let's be patient with these guys, eh? Everyone knows they're not as good as the real thing, but what replacement is? We'll keep watching because that's just what we do.
Just ask Leno.