Monday, October 1, 2012

Replacement Refs: There’s a Flag on the Play

Roger Goodell, Commissioner of the NFL, had his phone number tweeted by Wisconsin State Senator, Jon Erpenbach on Monday night after the most controversial touchdown call ever determined the outcome of the Packers-Seahawks game. Did you catch that? TWEETED!

After receiving 70,000 direct phone calls and nearly 300,000 angry #MNF tweets, the NFL referee lockout ended. Ironic? Coincidence? I think not. The social media platform allowed customers of the NFL to be heard, and that they were. Chirp Chirp Mr. Goodell.

Wait, there's a yellow flag on the field!

"Illegal forward pass, Offense, 48 game penalty. Replay second down."

Let me break it down for you:
Illegal forward pass - Moving forward with un-prepared replacement referees.
Offense - NFL.
48 game penalty - Games played under the rule of the replacement refs.

Let me break it down for you further.

The NFL hired 135 replacement referees. These guys may have worked in college, high school, or Pop Warner football games. A few were even from the Lingerie League, one of which was fired, bless his heart.

In August, these men were no more ready than I was to referee at the professional level. They were amateurs. And the NFL didn't invest the time or money to properly train them. Shame on you, NFL!

Forty-eight games and one horrific call later, they are finally off the field (and collecting a check for week 4), leaving a lesson in how to run the business of backups.

Here is how you can learn from the NFL's penalty play:

1. Make a Plan B. Things happen. People leave. Computers crash. Money disappears. Contracts fall through. Things happen. One of the major business failures is to not have a Plan B. Elizabeth, the producer of Sales Caffeine, humors our office in regards to executing a Plan B. My favorite line from her, "God Forbid, I get hit by a bus! We need someone else that knows how to do my job." She's right. This is Sales Caffeine Issue #569, which means it has ran for 569 Tuesday's straight. Do you think we aren't going to have a backup plan to ensure the streak doesn't end? What's your backup plan? Do you have people in place to pick up the pieces, to substitute in, and to be the replacement?

2. Invest in proper training. And once you do have the Plan B in place, you have to allow for proper training. The NFL didn't invest in adequately training these refs to be true replacements. A real replacement would have been able to perform at nearly the same level as their predecessor. They would know the rulebook, the penalties, and how to turn their microphone's on without hesitation. Instead, we saw game after game with dazed and confused black and white shirts. All these guys needed was a little TLC; training, leading, and communicating.

3. Support the replacements. Executing your Plan B requires that you support the replacements, whole-heartedly. They may stumble, make bad calls, and cause you to be bombarded with angry tweets and phone calls, but your job, as a leader, is to stand behind your Plan B and your people. Some of you may think I'm batty for saying this after the touchdown call the replacement refs made against Green Bay on Monday night. Well, Green Bay had another bad call on Sunday when running back Sproles clearly fumbled but was instead ruled down by contact. Um, down by contact my rear! Even the "best" will make mistakes.

When you have to implement your Plan B and put a replacement in the game, remember these three things; it's your decision, it's your game, and it's your reputation. Manage accordingly. The time will come for replacements. Are you ready?

I’m your Double-Tall, Non-Fat, No-Whip Sales Barista. How may I help you help yourself?

Stephanie Melish, one of the few, hand-selected, Gitomer-Certified Speakers is the ONLY Double-Tall, Non-Fat, No-Whip Sales Barista in the world! Stephanie trains, sells, and speaks to companies and associations all over the country. To book Stephanie for your next event, please visit or contact the friendly folks at Buy Gitomer via email at or by calling 704-333-1112.


  1. Replies
    1. one more thoughtful insight I would like to mention. Go Ravens! :)

    2. Now, that's crossing the line Bill...WHO DEY!!

  2. Great read! As a Packers fan... I could not be more upset by those games.

    As for Plan B, all I can say from prior experience is to cross train, cross train, and do more cross training. It fills a hole when needed and puts everyone involved on the same page. Why wouldn't you do something that protects your business, increases moral and maximizes profit and production potential?!?!

    1. You are one smart Cheese Head! Thank you for your insight.

    2. This is so true...however for a future article, you may want to address those managers or people who don't like to have a plan B or do replacement training because their own egos get in the way. They think that by training or seeing others succeed, it somehow takes away from them. Thanks for the article!

    3. Anonymous - Thank You for the suggestion!

  3. Stephanie!

    I love the passion and I'm sorry to see your Saints are 0-4.

    Obviously a coach makes a difference.

    Just like in sales, life or any other thing!

    Michael Bremmer

  4. Hi Stephanie,
    Loved the article but just thought I'd point out, that its "Goodell" not "Goddell"

    1. Thank goodness he is only Good and not God! Much appreciated edit.

  5. Still rocking the articles. Well done yet again.