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JONFINEPRODUCTIONS.COM NEWSLETTER   12/14/17
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THE WIZARDRY OF OS
By Scott Osborne
Assistant Basketball Coach and Head Swimming Coach at Central High

        The Saints are defying conventional wisdom these days.  The Saints have won four games this year where they had more giveaways than takeaways.
        Against the Falcons, the Saints went the other way.  They lost despite winning the turnover margin by two.  Of course, drastically losing the penalty margin can do that.  Still, I like the Saints chances of winning when the defense forces turnovers.  Certainly, it is not a coincidence that the defense forced three turnovers the same week that Lattimore returned to the lineup.
        Can the Saints get healthy for the home stretch and into the playoffs?  Keep in mind that healthy in the NFL is a relative term.
That is the real question for the whole league.  Philadelphia has had a great season.  The Eagles have overcome a number of injuries, but losing the starting quarterback is tough to overcome.  The Patriots are a different offense without Gronk and lost to the Dolphins as a result.
        Thus is life in the NFL.  With the parity in the league, if the teams are similar in ability, the healthiest team is probably going to be the better team on that day.  Some could say that is how the Saints beat the Lions earlier this season.  Saints fans feel that is how the Falcons beat the Saints last Thursday.
        I have been impressed by the Saints ability to play well while sustaining their rash of injuries.  Hopefully, ten days between games will get the Saints ready for the final push heading into the playoffs.  The main position where the Saints need to be at their best is the offensive line.
        Zach Strief went down before the season.  Warford has missed time this year.  Armstead has battled injuries all year, and Peat missed the Falcons game.  Kelemete and his ability to play well at any spot along the line of scrimmage has been amazing, and he got hurt in the Falcons game.  Remember, the Falcons played every game last year with the same offensive line.  The Saints deserve credit for being in the position they are in despite the injuries.
        As I referenced before, every team in the NFL has injuries.  A week ago, I thought the Jets game would provide a major challenge.  The Jets lost their starting quarterback and now the game appears as I suspected before the season.  If the Saints take care of the ball and don’t give up big plays, they should win.
        Beyond that, it isn’t just coaches speak anymore, as a fan, I am taking this one week at a time.
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HEY REF
BY DENNIS DEARIE
VETERAL LOUISIANA HS REFEREE

        There is a very good reason why this week’s column just so happens to be the shortest ever in the five plus years in “HEY REF” history. Those that’ve followed my writings are no doubt in shock that I’ve worked extra hard to keep as few words as possible so that I may focus very hard on the subject for this week’s WORDS OF WISDOM.
        Mike Florio’s column last week in which he insinuated the NFL’s assigning of a former Falcons’ player to work as one of the officials in last Thursday night’s game against the New Orleans Saints was some type of a deviant move to insure Atlanta would walk away from the game victorious. The official in question, Phil McKinnely, was one that worked through the official’s strike as a replacement ref. But that’s for another day to discuss.
        No matter how or why he was moved from another crew for this game has no substance worthy of a discussion. The NFL confirmed the move as standard operating procedure and also reports it estimates 40 percent of the crews that worked together in the first week of the 2017 season are now made up of different officials.
        But that’s not here nor there. To even “hint” any degree of impropriety goes beyond any level of common sense. Which of course so many people lack having any (common sense) so I won’t even go there! I’ll get right to the point and explain what I’m very well aware of, what is FACT in the world of an NFL official. I attended two separate official’s camps run by the NFL and NCAA at UCLA. So, I’m not getting these things second, third or fourth handed.
        Two BIG names teaching classes that you might recall from their days working countless regular season games, playoffs and Super Bowls were #43, Referee Red Cashion and #31 Umpire Chad Brown. They went into detail how they felt working as an NFL Official was as if you were employed as a spy for the Russians.
        A “normal” week would start off going to your regular job (NFL referees are part time employees) then on Thursday you’d pack up and head to the airport to catch your flight to the city in which your next assignment was located. Red said that before they got a foot outside of their house at least two NFL security personnel were locked onto your every move.
        The league knew your cab driver, if one was used, the agent that checked you in for your flight, your flight numbers, your seat number, the time you took off, the time you landed and even knew what suitcases you packed for the trip. They knew who you talked to and for how long, who instigated the conversations and on and on.
        Friday and Saturday was filled with meetings. There was even one with the ground crew and an inspection of the playing field, locker rooms and where the officials’ dressing room is located. The NFL went so far as changing the people that kept tabs on you and your crew until you were back in your front yard on Monday. In other words NFL officialswere so closely monitored and followed that the NFL even knew how many sheets of toilet paper each official used while wiping his behind. We laughed when Red said that but after a couple seconds and us seeing Red wasn’t joking the room silent because we’d just been allowed inside the world of an NFL Official.
        By the time you land back in your home city the league has completed your game film. You get a final grade and a grade on EACH AND EVERY PLAY from that week’s contest. How many of us can pass a similar test on our day to day jobs? Chad said it gets so crazy trying to comprehend what you’re given by the league after each and every game it feels as if they grade you on each breath you take for four days.
So, to keep the words as few as possible I’ll close for now so that you can digest what we learned during the camps. Officiating in the NFL is no picnic or an easy cushy style job. The pressure these guys are under would make most of us living out our lives in a looney farm. There is no room for gamblers or cheats in the world of a professional football referee and there shouldn’t be. And to all those unhappy losers out there wanting to find fault where there isn’t any all I’ll say is walk a day in the shoes of an NFL Official. There are very few that can stand the pressure!!
Till next week….
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