Ed Hochuli isn't only the symbol for what we're now believing to be the saviors of this NFL season. While one of the most identifiable league referees is getting his welcome back to the field after the NFL Referees Association came to an agreement with the NFL Thursday, we can also use this time to remember that he's an Arizona Wildcat.
Earning his law school degree at the University of Arizona, Hochuli stands as the leader and face of relief this evening.
The reasoning goes something like this. Hochuli has used the strengths and mindset of being a lawyer -- he practices in the Phoenix area -- to develop the same attributes needed for dealing with NFL divas. Not only were the replacement officials greatly at a disadvantage in not knowing the rulebook, but they were seemingly abused for their lack of a firm grasp in dealing with personalities. The few times when the likes of John Fox, Bill Belichick and NFL players weren't in the face of the replacement refs, the officials weren't doing anything to prevent it from happening either.
So Hochuli's famed physique also now symbolizes how the locked out officials have built up muscle -- both in handling egos of players and coaches and in simply understanding the rule book.
Yahoo!'s Eric Adelson wrote a feature in August about Hochuli. In it, he finds the former UA law student's strength in the court room and on the field:
"There is nowhere near the amount of pressure in the law practice as there is on the football field," Hochuli says. "Nobody's videotaping the trial and showing it back in slow motion. The officiating has been very good for my law practice; I never get nervous in the courtroom anymore."
Adelson proposes that we take away that part-time tag that NFL officials carry around. Though Hochuli and the others have full-time jobs, the realization of their commitment to refereeing is probably more present than ever after Monday night's debacle in Seattle. Hochuli sends his colleagues five-hour tests each week to keep them sharp, and like the football players themselves he goes over game film, studying mistakes.
Maybe, as we face the brink of a season without Hochuli and all the other "part-time" NFL referees with impossible jobs, we should realize how much sweat "Hochules" and others have put into being the best at what they do.
Maybe it's time we learn that that now.
Yes, indeed. And today, we can appreciate the man known as "Hochules" more than ever.
Are you glad the NFL officials are returning?