To truly be a lockout, management must slam the door shut and not open it, in any way. As a result, we’re told that the locked-out officials have gotten nothing at all from the league by way of information regarding rules changes for 2012 or anything else that would help the officials prepare to work games once the lockout ends.
Still, once the lockout ends the officials will be expected to be ready to roll, immediately.
And so, like the players a year ago conducting lockout workouts in anticipation of the conclusion of the work stoppage, referee Ed Hochuli is leading the charge, we’re told, toward helping the officials prepare for the tweaks in the rules that they’ll be expected to have mastered once they are back to work.
The fact that the officials will be ready to go at a moment’s notice doesn’t give the officials any extra leverage at the bargaining table. But it’s the right thing to do for men who care about their jobs and who understand the importance of the decisions they make under inherently challenging circumstances.
So keep complaining about the locked-out officials. And keep assuming that the replacements from the third tier and below won’t be noticeably worse when the real games start. As they usually do, the locked-out officials are blocking out the sound and focusing on doing their jobs — even though the NFL currently won’t let them.