If you were looking for proof that the beginning of the NFL season is filled with disastrous, sloppy football then by the end of Sunday night you would’ve had a lot of material to work with: the first full day of the season included blown calls, botched punts and a handful of memorable broken plays. None of that, though, measures up to the peak of NFL incompetence that was on display in Week 1. I am talking, of course, about review-tablet-holder-guy.

This utter nonsense involved a living, breathing human being used as a replacement for, I don’t know, a fucking table? A goddamned tripod? Literally any flat surface? The whole thing is even more egregious when you realize that, in order to look at the tiny screen being held before his eyes by some poor, wayward NFL pleb, the referee is completely ignoring the massive, high definition jumbotron that’s lurking right over his shoulder.

This wasn’t a one-off bout of madness, either. Somehow NFL executives saw fit to employ this method across the entire league. On the one hand, this seems like an unbelievable display of cheapskatery – which would be fitting for a league that once refused to pay its officials until their absence started ruining the league’s marketability – and yet, on the other hand, how is it possibly cheaper to hire a person to hold a tablet rather than, I don’t know, buying a shitty Ikea table to put the damn thing on? Are the tablet holders volunteers?

None of this even begins to address the issue of why the referee can’t be bothered to hold the tablet with his own hands in the first place. Is this just some weird kind of power thing? That’s gotta be it, right? Now that the officials are getting paid and are part of the real1 NFL family, they can’t be sullying themselves with such base acts as holding things. So the NFL convinced some poor schleps that turning yourself into a human table is a worthy cause because, hey, at least it gets you on the sidelines for an NFL game! Most damning of all? Like everything else the NFL sells, we bought it. Hook, line and sinker.

Guys, maybe we’re the incompetent ones.

  1. Read: lucrative.

Brennan Quenneville is an editor and contributor at The Read Option. He can also be found at his blog and at Type In Stereo, where he is a contributor.

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