NFL Referee Hotline Bling: Gronk gets his bell rung


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The NBA created hotline for players to talk about the officials, and since it's a copycat league, the NFL quickly followed suit. The hotline is a number that players can call to ask about rules, appeal punishments and speak freely, although using profanity leads to a 10-second runoff on their recording time. We've obtained access to the responses from the league, which are about as real as Sam Bradford's chances of passing a team physical. We know when that hotline blings, it can only mean one thing: A Patriots tight end's ears are ringing.

Rob Gronkowski 

Dear Rob Gronkowski,

First, we’d like to congratulate you for returning to the Super Bowl and check to see that you’re OK after that savage hit. To be honest, we can’t really tell. Yes, you called up late at night, slurring your speech and speaking incoherently, but you do that every Sunday night when you’ve been partying. Checking you for a brain injury is like checking Def Leppard’s drummer for hangnails.

That being said, Barry Church’s hit was a clear 15-yard penalty. It’s the cheapest hit since "The Blair Witch Project." We haven’t seen a worse head shot since The Rock wore a turtleneck and chain. We would suspend him, but thanks to Brady and your teammates Church's season is over.

Instead, we’ve decided he needs a Jacksonville-based punishment. As such, we are taking away his Jet Ski for two weeks. He’ll be subject to random urine tests to make sure there’s no traces of Rockstar Energy Drinks or whip-its in his system. He’s also required to wear shirts with sleeves while outside the house until the NFL Draft, and the league will also be confiscating all of his Shinedown albums until then.

Good luck in the Super Bowl, and until then, please do not head butt anyone, anything, any animal or any other member of the Gronkowski family.

Gronkily Yours, NFL Referee Hotline 

Myles Jack 

Dear Myles Jack,

We apologize for the inadvertent whistle on your fumble recovery Sunday. It was clearly a live ball, and you had a seemingly easy path to the end zone. What happened was, an official far from the play saw Dion Lewis go down and didn’t realize the ball was out. According to the referee’s creed, “First, do no harm to New England,” he was required to make an irrevocable call as quickly as possible. It’s called the Hippatriotic Oath.

The official in question tried to claim that he spotted Gisele in the stands and tried to call to her, which prompted the whistle, but that's not true. Nor did the official see the ball come loose. What he did see was Bill Belichick on the sidelines, locking eyes with him and making the throat slash gesture. That’s what happens when you violate the Oath! We’ve seen tougher officials than that pick up flags, destroy video and even eat flags in terror after seeing such a thing. Why do you think the refs were the first to congratulate Tom Brady on the win? They even celebrated with the team after a second-quarter touchdown. Sure, the play was not reviewable after the whistle, but would that have mattered? The Patriots aren’t losing a replay challenge!

Look, if you’re going to beat the Patriots, you can’t rely on the officials, because they literally will not call a single penalty on the Pats on offense or defense, while awarding them huge chunks of yards for minor physical contact. Your team just needs to work hard this offseason, stay focused and get an owner with a deep personal friendship with Roger Goodell.

Patriotically Yours, NFL Referee Hotline 

Case Keenum 

Dear Case Keenum,

We have reviewed the video and can confirm that your fumble was ruled correctly. Though your arm did move forward, it happened after you lost control of the ball. And after watching the game Sunday, we aren’t sure that anyone involved with the Minnesota offense could have truly been considered to be moving forward at all. However, we do have some comments on the change of possession.

Case, the sack did cause you to lose possession of the ball, but it also ended your possession — by the spirit of a competent quarterback. You must realize you haven’t been yourself these past few months. Accurate passes, leading rallies, holding on to a starting job for months — that’s not Case Keenum football. You know what is Case Keenum football? Throwing a pick-six, getting five yards per attempt and watching the Super Bowl on television.

That’s why your head was spinning around so much on Sunday, watching pass rushers blow past your offensive line. You were possessed! And it’s probably why you projectile vomited after throwing your second interception. That’s also why the Saints made such a spirited comeback in the second half, because they were facing an actual demon. However, even voodoo can’t match the power of Satan.

Look, don’t think of it as a strip sack. Think of it as an exorcism. Finally, you’re free, and you can do what you've always been compelled you to do: hold a clipboard on the sidelines.

Demonically Yours, NFL Referee Hotline 

Doug Marrone 

Dear Doug Marrone,

From your morose tone on the voice mail, we think you already know that we have upheld the Danny Amendola touchdown catch. It was close play, but he definitely made a legal catch. There was a different play where he possibly lost possession going to the ground, but our bribe from Robert Kraft careful replay review showed it was indeed a reception.

But how about that play! Normally when the Patriots drag their feet, it’s to delay an investigation so Tom Brady has time to destroy the evidence on his cell phones. When the Patriots barely stay within the boundaries, usually that means they’re pushing the limits of the NFL’s videotaping rules. It shows that Patriots receivers don’t just toe the line when they visit Tom Brady’s shady personal doctor instead of the team trainer. Even Pats hater Rex Ryan said it was some of the best footwork he’s ever seen.

Coach Marrone, it’s true that football is a game of inches, but despite what they might have said when you coached Bills games in Toronto, it’s also a game of feet.

Jaggedly Yours, NFL Referee Hotline 

Shirtless Eagles Enthusiast 

Dear Shirtless Eagles Enthusiast,

Along with the Philadelphia district attorney’s office, we are going to emphatically deny your request to overturn your arrest. You punched a police officer! And you punched a police horse! Twice! That’s a personal foul, that’s illegal touching and it’s also animal cruelty. The only people in Philly who are allowed to hit horses are jockeys, former mayor Frank Rizzo and Rocky Balboa.

Look, we don’t expect much. This is the fan base that pelted Santa Claus with snowballs. Phillies fans threw batteries at J.D. Drew, and a fan once vomited on an 11-year-old girl on purpose. "Silver Linings Playbook" uses Eagles fandom as a clear sign of violent mental illness. But we can’t possibly show leniency. Why? Because this is the second week in a row that an Eagles fan has punched a horse before the game!

Philly fans are notably aggressive, but they’re also notably superstitious. Two horse punches, two playoff wins. There’s absolutely going to be an Eagles fan who punches a horse on Super Bowl Sunday for “good luck.” We’re going to see broncos get beat up worse than when Seattle played Denver in the Super Bowl — and Michael Mann is going to film it for HBO.

You have a few options. You can take the jail sentence. You can do community service cleaning out stables. Or, you can run into a subway pillar as fast as you can. The choice is yours.

Brotherly Lovingly Yours, NFL Referee Hotline

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Sean Keane is a comedian residing in Los Angeles. He has written for "Another Period," "Billy On The Street," NBC, Comedy Central, E!, and Seeso. You can see him doing fake news every weekday on @TheEverythingReport and read his tweets at @seankeane. In 2014, the SF Bay Guardian named him the best comedian in San Francisco, then immediately went out of business.

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