Audibles From the Long Snapper: Urlacher, Sanzenbacher & Replacement Refs

| August 6th, 2012

Apologies for what has been and will continue to be sporadic posting for the next few days. I am beginning my third week of jury service today but there is an end in sight.


How many more years do you think Brian Urlacher plays at an elite level in the middle of the Bears defense? Three? Maybe two? In short #54 only has so much time left on the football field and none of that time should be wasted in Bourbonnais or in under-attended preseason stadiums. Every moment he spends on the sideline this summer, with his knee wrapped, may be another moment he can spend on the field come January.

When will I worry about Urlacher? If he’s not on the practice field Wednesday, September 5th.


When I wrote an elaborate piece about Dane Sanzenbacher it was meant with a sufficient amount of mockery. “Why oh why, Jeff? Why must you waste our eye energy on a piece about a meaningless entity like Sanzenbacher,” wrote a fake comment I just made up. Then yesterday happened. Devin Thomas, seemingly out of the blue, walked away from the NFL. That squealing you heard from Bourbonnais was coming from Sanzenbacher’s training camp dorm. (Side note: Good for Thomas. Football is not a sport one should play against their own will.)

Here are the facts at WR. Marshall, Jeffery, Hester, Bennett and Weems are guarantees. If the Bears go with six WRs, the sixth will be The Great Dane. Lovie likes him. Cutler likes him. And contrary to many of the opinions on this site, I think the fans quite like him because fans tend to like white guy receivers. They’re easy to root for. Perennial football underdogs.

But even if Sanzenbacher makes the 53-man roster it will be a cosmetic decision. The sixth receiver never suits up on Sunday. Never. Unless the Bears suffer an injury to one of the top four receivers, Dane will have minimal impact and few touches of the football.


First, I don’t believe the NFL will utilize replacement referees this season. Like most strikes of this type a deal will be reached once the workforce faces the actual possibility of missing meaningful work and meaningful paychecks.

Second, I contend it wouldn’t matter much if we saw replacement referees in the NFL. Does anyone think the current crop of refs are that good? It seemed every game of 2011 was marred, one way or the other, by a poor or misguided call. Coaches, players and fans were constantly complaining about the officiating. Now we’re complaining those officials may not be around. Sounds like a Woody Allen joke.

What’s so hard about refereeing the NFL? It’s not like soccer, basketball or hockey. It does not require high levels of conditioning. And how many things are actually called on a weekly basis? Holding. Pass interference. Illegal shift. False start/offsides. You’re telling me, with six weeks of preparation, knowledgeable football men could not be put in a solid position to do the job effectively come September 5th? I agree with Pete Prisco of CBS Sports. I don’t think it would be as big a deal as people think.