NFL, locked-out officials playing chicken


It’s no coincidence that unnamed league executives leaked a chest-thumping slew of news regarding the locked-out officials to Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter of ESPN as ESPN was preparing to air the first Monday Night Countdown of the season.  The NFL wants to put the screws to the locked-out officials; what better way to do it than have the screw-turning featured on the pregame show for the first Monday night game of the preseason?

The huffing and puffing from the unnamed league executives is aimed at getting the locked-out officials to realize that, despite widespread criticism of the replacement officials, the NFL doesn’t plan to blink.  A deeper goal may be to convince the replacement officials that fanning the flames of criticism of the replacements officials isn’t working, in the hopes that the locked-out officials will, you know, stop doing it.

They likely won’t, even though the efforts of the locked-out officials to stir up trouble aren’t resonating with fans, yet.

The fact that the unnamed league executives also leaked to Schefter and Mortensen (Ed Werder is feeling left out) points of contention unrelated to money suggests that the league wants to take focus off the notion that the two sides are only $100,000 apart per team and to place it on the perception that the locked-out officials don’t want some to be full-time NFL employees, and/or that the locked-out officials want to make it harder to fire any of them for poor performance.

In the end, it’s another game of chicken.  Sources have told ESPN that the lockout is likely to last until the third week of the regular season because the NFL believes (hopes) that the locked-out officials will cry “uncle” after missing the first two weekends of real football.  The locked-out officials are hoping that the performance of the replacement officials will create the kind of kerfuffle that will push the league to bend.

With most if not all of the locked-out officials having other employment, they won’t be giving in because they need the money.  In the end, it could be that their commitment to the game — and their disgust at seeing third-tier and lower replacements screw up calls while wearing the NFL shield — will prompt them to strike a deal and get back to work.

Regardless of when and how it happens, the league and the locked-out officials need to get this done.  If we assume that the NFL has hired the best of the best officials to supervise its games, those are the people who need to be working the games that count.  Pro football has become way too important to entrust the outcomes to wide-eyed officials who have never worked games in front of 1,000 fans — and who now will be working nationally-televised games played in front of 60,000, 70,000, 80,000, and more.

28 responses to “NFL, locked-out officials playing chicken

  1. Out of $5.5 billion, the NFL can’t find a way to get this done? Greed is good? I don’t think so.

  2. I have seen some TERRIBLE calls over the last couple of seasons. i say give the newbies a chance,they can’t be too much more terrible than the current batch.

  3. The fans know the game an even on TV we can see the calls before the refs throw the flag. My point is…. The NFL needs to find out what the real refs want an REASON with them.. SPLIT the differance an get them on the field .. RIGHT NOW

  4. Dear Unnamed League Exec:

    Want me to take your view seriously? Well, make an honest statement. This leaking business is like a 6th grader purposely talking a little too loudly in the lunch room so her rival will hear themselves being trashtalked with some amount of deniability on the part of the trashtalker.

  5. For a league that strives to be the best at everything this move is shameless by the NFL. Will lose a lot of respect for the shield if they don’t get this done. The real refs deserve it.

  6. If this Week 3 soft deadline holds, I’m betting the officials win. The performance of these replacement clowns in the first two weeks will be visceral reminder that the NFL needs competent officials more than well off doctors and lawyers need something to do on the weekend.

  7. What’s the world coming too? Players walk in and say I’m worth $xx and if you don’t pay me I’m sitting. What do you think would happen if a team said to their roster, “Tell me what you think you are worth and we’ll see if we can get it done?” The total might be in the hundreds of millions which, of course, is not doable.

    Now the refs are doing it too. Here’s the deal: the job pays $xx and if that’s not enough adios amigos. 98% of workers in America would get fired on the spot if they walked in to the boss and said, “I’m holding out unless I get a raise and I’m deciding what that raise should be.”

    The NFL will go on without ED Hochuli and Alberto Riberon strutting around the field on Sundays.

  8. @hulkster

    One of the funniest posts in a while!!!

    @ the NFL

    Fix this fast!!! I am tired of hearing about this already, just wait until the season starts.

  9. When will you all wake up and realize that this has absolutely nothing to do about money.

    Goodell & the owners want ref’s to be full time. The current ref’s want nothing to do with it, they like having this cushy-way-cool side job that pockets them a ton of coin.

    The NFL will be better off when they finally get their way and have full time ref’s.

  10. I doubt this will get posted, since it seems all the anti-refs posts get deleted, but Mike do me a favor. Promise me you’ll nitpick every missed call the regular refs botch when they come back, just as bad as you nitpick the replacements. Somehow I doubt you will….

  11. The best of the best will always be replaced by someone else. This is just all of them at the same time. The NFL is playing hardball by allowing the replacement officiate the games. The NFLRA tactic of trashing the new guys is not working right now. 3 main reasons: the games don’t count; they seem hypocritical because every fan remembers a bunch of inexplicable calls by the “best” in games that actually counted. It may start working eventually but it will take a very large number of screw-ups for that sentiment to take root beyond the union brotherhood. The NFLRA can wait almost indefinitely due to having other jobs. Their problem is that every week they wait, the new guys get better. At some point the NFL could just keep the “scabs” who seem happy enough with whatever they are being paid.

  12. “Out of $5.5 billion, the NFL can’t find a way to get this done? Greed is good? I don’t think so.”

    was this mentioned in the CBA with the players association? maybe the NFL and the players can split the bill to get the refs back. something tells me if it were to come out of the players pockets, we would be looking at our new permanent (replacement) officiating crew right now.

  13. With the NFLRA and everyone else screaming that the integrity of the game is at stake with all the incorrect calls, it’s going to be pretty hard to back-track on that stance once the league puts it on the table during the negotiations. How can they say that the scabs’ mistakes are bad but disregard it whenever they have made/will make similar mistakes?

  14. I wonder if it’s ever going to occur to anyone to interview a rep from the NFLRA and ask them if it’s true. If the NFLRA would deny that the extra crews and accountability are an issue. It would garner them alot more support than criticizing their replacements at every turn.

    The replacement refs do not bother me at this time. The preseason is the time to make mistakes and improve. Rookies usually improve. Vets not so much. We know the veteren refs screw up plenty of games. Maybe the rookies, once they become veterens, will be better than the current veterans. Experience is only gained on the job.

    If, as the article suggests, the veterens want to maintain their jobs, not through being the best, but by making sure noone else can join their exclusive club and making it difficult to hold them accountable for their mistakes, are they really the best? or are they just killing time till retirement and their pensions kick in?

  15. Regardless of the why the referee’s are locked or what the problem is, I have yet to see the current referee’s call anything or do anything that has not been done by the “professional” ref’s on countless occasions.

    The only thing I’ve seen is people taking every little mistake and making it seem like the previous crop of officials never did anything like that.

    I only see upside to the current officials. They seem to me making the same amount of mistakes as last years officials made during important/playoff games. As they gain experience and more knowledge of the game at this level and the rule book, I would expect them to only get better.

    What would really have been awesome is if all the people (Mike P, announcers, media in general, etc) who are slamming the current ref’s for every little mistake they make, had been as vocal last year and the years before that and held the old officials to the same high standard.
    At the very least it would have given their current position some credibility.

    If/when the old ref’s work things out with the NFL, it will be interesting to see how tolerant these same people will be when the “Pro’s” continue to make the same mistakes.

  16. Mike, get a sack and call these people what they are: Scabs!! Not replacement workers. Corporate will always say it’s the workers fault during a lockout. Been there, done that. The NFL has plenty of money and talking heads to make the real refs look like the bad guys.

  17. I havent seen every game, but the ones i have watched the replacement ref’s are doing just as good as the best of the best . I say keep the refs locked out let the replacements have their chance..

  18. The true genius of American government is our ability to compromise. Likewise, in any labor negotiation, compromise is the key to solving an impasse. The NFL or the NFLRA—or both—need(s) to move out of its(their) entrenchment(s) and start walking toward the middle ground, which is where a new collective bargaining agreement can be found before some fans decide to start talking with their feet.

  19. “Pro football has become way too important to …”

    I disagree with this statement on principle. Pro Football is no more or less important than a new Rolling Stones LP … meaning it’s really not that important. It’s entertainment.

    I love watching NFL football, and I love rooting for my Lions, but when I make a list of the most important things in my life, football ain’t on the list.

  20. Okay, so if the league back down it will be because of overwhelming pressure from the fans. On the other hand, if the officials cave it will be because their incredible professional integrity won’t allow them to see their profession sullied by third rate substitutes ruining the game.

    Could your coverage of this *be* any more biased?

  21. NFL owners are greedy. Reminds me of corporate America blaming the economy then sitting on hoards of cash while they cut employees not their exec perks. The Browns sold for over 1 billion dollars about double the value it was bought for. And for all the jacked up prices from parking to beers to food, the ‘real’ refs need to be out on the field. All the replacement ref supporters just wait to the regular when games matter and sportscenter is filled not with highlight plays but bad calls after calls. So the owners get off you greedy train I mean gravy train. Must be nice for the owners to be part of the 1%.

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