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NFL Life as a replacement ref - ESPN

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Wonderful human interest story about the NFL replacement referees. It's fascinating to see the human side of things...



ot all of them were waiting by the phone for their chance to blow a whistle in the NFL. Lynn Lawhon was finished with being a referee. The lanky Texan had a job as a veterinarian and a teenage daughter who had spent too many weekends without her daddy. Officiating wasn't everything to him, and he figured the Cotton Bowl in 2000 was a good place to call it quits. He loves football, loves Texas, and the idea of doing his last game in Dallas sounded fitting. He was 46 years old.

A year later, the NFL called. It needed him to fill in as a replacement ref. So he did, and then 11 years passed before he was tapped again. Lawhon does not cringe at the word "scab." He is good friends with Gary Gaines, the old Odessa Permian coach who was the inspiration behind "Friday Night Lights." In an attempt to protect himself from potential negativity, Gaines claims he never read the book. Lawhon admired him for that. He did the same thing during the past few months as a replacement ref. He shut out most media, ignoring the critics who said they didn't belong out there.

Off the field, Lawhon gushes about his grandkids. That's what his life is about now. On the field, he's as tough as a burnt piece of sirloin. Why did he do it? Because he was needed.

"The league insisted there were games that were going to be played, and they were looking for people willing and able to officiate them," Lawhon said. "It was as simple as that. And with that as their mantra, we moved forward to do the best we could for them."

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