NFL commissioner Roger Goodell continues to insist that replacement officials will be just fine if — as expected — the lockout of the NFL Referees Association is still going on when the regular season begins in two weeks.
“These officials have been trained,” Goodell told the Associated Press today. “We’ve been working with them. We think they’ll do a very credible job.”
The training the replacement officials have received, however, can’t come close to replicating the years of experience that the regular officials have. Which is why even as Goodell claims the replacements will be fine, he adds that he wants to get the regular officials back on the field.
“We’re anxious to get a deal done, but it has to get done that it’s going to help us for the long term,” Goodell said. “It’s not a short-term issue.”
And so, in the time it takes to get a long-term deal done, the replacements will be on the field. And while Goodell acknowledges that the replacements have made some mistakes in the preseason, he’s not prepared to say those mistakes have been more plentiful than they would be with the regular officials.
“We have controversial calls. Officiating is an imperfect science,” he said. “They’re not going to be correct all the time, but we have systems in place to try to help. We have instant replay, as an example, to try to help correct those mistakes. . . . It’s like any game. We get calls every Monday from fans, from coaches, from teams upset about a particular call. That happens. And it will happen going forward regardless of who’s on the field.”
At the start of the season, it’s almost certainly going to happen with replacement officials on the field.