Several former Lingerie Football League officials officiated games that you watched in a stadium or on national television every Sunday for the past three weeks. And we’re not talking the LFL’s top officials, either. No, we’re talking officials that were fired from the league.
The regular officials’ lockout ended at Midnight eastern time last night, but that doesn’t make this story any less significant given what we’ve seen over the first three weeks of the season.
Lingerie Football League commissioner Mitch Mortaza joined XX Sports Radio in San Diego with Josh and Charod to discuss he and his league becoming part of the replacement refs’ story, the call on Monday night, what the officials did to get fired from the LFL, how many former officials are now replacement refs and the reputation of his league. (Editor’s note: This interview took place before the deal between the NFL and the NFLRA.)
Did you expect you might end up having a chaotic week like this?:
“Yeah, you know, obviously it’s a pretty sensational story. I don’t even know if you could write something like this. But the reaction across, not just the sports world, but pop culture in general, has been pretty crazy.”
You’ve said that these officials were fired from you league due to incompetency. Did Monday’s game look similar or was that even over the top for you to watch?:
“Monday was over the top because not only did it involve the officials on the field, as we know now it also involved the replay official upstairs. Apparently that was not a replacement official. And for them to still miss that call, and then couple all that frustration for the fans with the NFL coming out with a statement that, ‘No, that was the right call,’ when we all know it was not the right call. It’s just surreal.”
What exactly did the officials do in your league that got them fired?:
“It’s a lot of what you’ve seen on the NFL field for the last three weeks — things like missing very easily identifiable pass interference calls. More importantly, not making the unnecessary roughness calls on the blatant late hits or on defenseless receivers. And just the presentation of it. When the referee is making a call and not facing the camera, that seems minor, but to trained officials, that’s kind of like breathing, it just comes. Those are some of the egregious errors we saw on our field and we decided to take a different path.”
What is the screening process for officials in the LFL?:
“What a lot of people don’t realize, there is a vetting process. You have to have an officiating background, and a strong one at that. And, personally, you have to be someone that can be relied upon. I think we’ve seen, even in the NFL with these replacement officials, I think they found a guy that has Saints paraphernalia and was decked out in Saints gear and was about to officiate a Saints game. I just don’t know how much vetting went in there.”
Do you know how many of your former referees are officiating NFL games?:
“We’re not furnished, obviously, with the roster of the NFL officials, but just eye-balling and actually seeing it, we’ve seen several that have officiated in our ranks. And then, obviously, all this was confirmed a couple months back by the former head of officiating of the NFL … who went on record saying, ‘We do have Lingerie Football League officials in the replacement ranks.’”
What kind of reputation do you want the Lingerie Football League to have?:
“We’re going to have a national reality series next year that’s going to chronicle a lot like HBO’s Hard Knocks approach, really going to talk about who these women are. They’re all former collegiate athletes … and how much work they put in the offseason. Similar to the guys in the NFL, with offseason OTAs, believe it or not, we’ve got minicamps, we’ve got training camps, they study film, they lift. The preparation that goes into our season is incredible. And that story’s never told because it is called the Lingerie Football League and yes, the women are beautiful. … Those that actually go to a game or really kind of delve into what this product is are really amazed by it. Honestly, if it was just sold on sex appeal, this thing would’ve died off years ago.”