If anything nudges the NFL and the locked out NFL Referees Association back to the bargaining table, it might be this weekend’s replacement clinic in Dallas.
Referred to as the “scab clinic” by NFLRA officials last week, it’s a collection of refs who’ve been working lower-level football, some retired officials and others who aren’t currently working at the Division I level.
If the league’s confident what they have gathered is a competent bunch, it will only embolden their stance. If they realize they have a disaster on their hands, it may make them much more agreeable to negotiate from the current position.
Not much is known about the makeup of the replacements, other than the fact the NFLRA considers them sub-standard.
But if they are put in play, a bit of NFL history will be made. According to Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times, one of the replacements is Shannon Eastin. She’s worked Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference games, but would be the first woman to work an NFL game as an on-field official.
Whether the league wants to put her on the field should have nothing to do with her gender. If she was qualified enough to work her way up the ranks to an NFL gig, no thinking person would have a problem with her presence. But the fact their replacement plan doesn’t include even the Triple-A quality refs from the college ranks would seriously diminish the accomplishment of a barrier being broken.
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