Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The most hated man in San Diego is a geek.

By now, most sports fans have heard about the bizarre ending to Sunday's Chargers - Broncos game. A quick recap: with time running down, and Denver trailing by a touchdown, Broncos QB Jay Cutler dropped back to pass and had the ball "fall out" of his throwing hand. The referee blew the whistle, so even though San Diego recovered the ball -- AND it was reviewed on instant replay -- the ball could not be awarded to the Chargers. The Broncos subsequently scored a TD and a 2-point conversion (!) to win the game. Much drama and hand-wringing ensued, which you can read about here. And here. And here.

Bottom line: referee Ed Hochuli made a bad call -- a mistake -- by blowing the whistle. The rules and system in place wouldn't allow that mistake to be corrected, and what should have been a Chargers win turned into a Denver win (Denver still had to score the TD, and still had to win it on a ballsy call for a 2-point conversion, instead of the kick and journey into OT).

That's what's consumed the discussion of the game, and of Hochuli, for the past couple of days. However, I was going to write a blog post about Hochuli anyway -- but BEFORE the Denver - San Diego game. Hochuli is one of those refs that most people who watch a lot of football know by name, or at least by appearance. You see, he's pushing 60 years old, yet still works out like a demon and has a "set of guns." But I heard his name Friday, when I was doing some cleaning up around the house, and listening to the "Lost Podcast with Jay and Jack."

What does a Lost podcast have to do with NFL refs? Well, in addition to being an NFL ref and practicing attorney, it seems Hochuli is also a big Lost geek. The podcast features a segment called "listener feedback," where folks call in and leave messages about the show and podcast. There was a long, rambling and funny message from "Ed," who called to bust the hosts' chops about a variety of topics, including their (in)ability to get into the Lost session at Comic-Con. If I recall correctly, Hochuli and his brother may have actually camped out the night before to make sure they got to the head of the line and got into the Lost session (or at the very least, were planning to that for next year's session). An irony of Hochuli's involvement with the Lost podcast gang is that Jack is from San Diego, and a die-hard Chargers fan.

I'm sure Ed wishes he could turn a frozen donkey wheel right now, or have Daniel Faraday visit him sometime toward the end of the 4th quarter last Sunday and tell him to "not blow the whistle."

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