While the NFL may not be trimming the on-field officiating crews to one and making the calls upstairs, there’s a chance the NFL will be making the calls upstairs with the normal-sized crew.
Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times reports that some replacements officials are wearing ear pieces that connect them to a league official in the press box for assistance in making calls.
Per Farmer, the league also is instructing replacement officials to show up 3.5 hours before games start in order to get extra training on issues like where to stand and how to conduct the coin toss. (Officials ordinarily show up 2.5 hours before game time.)
We’ve got no problem with the league doing whatever it has to do to minimize mistakes before and after the whistle. Whether the crews consist of the regular officials or the replacement officials or a group of guys recruited from the stands, the overriding goal should be to get the calls right.
Of course, the league wouldn’t have to go to such lengths if the replacement officials had the same skill, poise, and experience as the locked-out officials. Still, we’ve got no problem with the league going beyond normal protocol in the name of ensuring the integrity of the game and promoting the health and safety of the players.