NFL, former refs at odds over training replacement officials

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Prominent former referees including Jerry Markbreit and Red Cashion have refused to train replacement officials to take the jobs of the league’s locked-out regular officials, leading to a standoff between the trainers and the NFL.

Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times reports that Markbreit, Cashion and seven other former game officials who have previously worked for the league training current officials have apparently been fired for refusing to train replacements.

The NFL never actually told us in writing we were fired,” Markbreit said. “However, they took our computers back, and they shut off the NFL website as they did to all of the officials. We feel that we’re fired. They haven’t formally notified us, but it sure feels like we’re fired.”

The other officiating trainers asked to return their computers were Ron Botchan, Bill Schmitz, Ben Montgomery, Jim Quirk, Sid Semon, Tom Fincken and Dean Look. Markbreit said none of them felt comfortable with training replacements.

“They wanted us to train the replacements, which we would absolutely not do,” Markbreit said. “We were all officials for 20-plus years. . . . How could we face our people? There wasn’t a question about us doing this. We knew this was coming. It’s very discouraging for [the league] to have put us in this kind of situation.”

The league has declined to comment on the matter. If the league and the National Football League Referees Association can’t come to an agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the NFL will start the season with replacement officials. And it’s not clear who will train those replacement officials.