WACO (September 30, 2012)-- They were in the NFL for 7 weeks, ejected from the game, but now some replacement referees could be a officiating a football game near you.
You might be surprised to hear that some NFL replacement referees have local ties to Central Texas.
When the NFL hit a brick wall during contract negotiations with their regular referees, they called on guys like Larry Weeks.
Larry, a longtime football referee, is the current president of the Waco Football Association for sports officials. He was asked by the NFL for referee reinforcements when negotiations with their regular referees went sour.
"I got a call from an NFL scout that I have known for a long time, and he was wanting to know if we had anybody in the local chapter here that could help him out," Weeks said.
Larry then recommended 5 of his best local officials. But he never knew, they would be chosen as "The Replacements" for the NFL referees.
"They took a whole crop of referees down to Dallas and Atlanta to have clinics," Weeks said.
"All 5 of our guys here locally survived the cuts and stayed until the end."
It didn't hurt that the local Waco Chapter for sports officials had a sterling reputation for officiating.
According to Larry, those 5 referees have officiated just about everything. From High School Varsity, to Division II and Division III Junior College.
But Larry says, it was nothing that could compare to the NFL.
"The difference in the rules, the speed of the game, and the biggest adjustment for them was knowing what the NFL wants you to call and what they don't want you to call," Weeks said.
It wasn't uncommon to see questionable calls made by officials in the NFL pre-season and early regular season games.
The biggest eye opener of them all, however, had to be the hail mary touchdown call in the final seconds of the Packers and Seahawks game.
"I mean, the NFL did everything they could do to get them ready. It was just a small window of being able to get them there," Weeks said.
"Usually when they move a new guy up, he's a rookie amongst 6 other officials. This time, you had 7 rookies out on the field."
Larry says, in their short stint, "The Central Texas Replacements" never missed a call.
"Our 5 guys weren't involved in any controversial call, minor or major, while they were in the NFL," Weeks said.
So what's next for "The Central Texas Replacements?" The unsung heroes who kept the NFL alive in its time of need?
Larry says his boys are back and will continue officiating high school and junior college games as early as this week.
Conducting, once again, under the Friday Night Lights.
"If it were me out there playing, I would have really thought that was something to have an NFL official in my ball game," Weeks said.