NFL will start season with replacement officials


The NFL’s replacement officials aren’t going away any time soon.

The league confirmed today in a memo sent to all 32 teams that the regular season will open with replacement officials, as the lockout of the NFL Referees Association continues.

The NFL says it’s ready to negotiate with the locked-out officials, but they’re not close enough to reaching an agreement that it’s realistic to think the regular officials could be on the field when the season starts, one week from tonight.

This year’s preseason games have seen plenty of bad calls, and several players have questioned whether the officials are in over their heads. A bad call that costs a team a regular-season game would surely amplify the cries for the league to get a deal done with its officials, but the NFL has insisted that the replacements are capable of doing the job. We’re about to get at least 16 regular-season games for the replacements to show that the league office is right — or to show that the NFL is jeopardizing the integrity of the game by refusing to finalize a deal.

73 responses to “NFL will start season with replacement officials

  1. They are capable of doing the job. Maybe if the players didn’t whine so much when the locked out refs were working I’d take their cries seriously now.

  2. This is a joke. So now they are ready to negotiate. They had all summer. This thing is spiraling out of control. It would be like having a med student performing surgery. You can;t do it. These replacements are a joke.

    Now there’s the possibility of the players taking action or striking? What a joke.

  3. The anger directed at the NFL over this issue is misplaced. Yes, it is unfortunate that we are stuck with refs that ate in over their heads. But the greed of the officials seems to be the issue here. Why on earth should part-time, highly compensated workers have fully loaded pensions, as they seem to be seeking? The NFL can’t cave to ridiculous demands, despite the unfortunate consequences. It is a business.

    Let the officials and their inflated egos rot.

  4. The NFL needs to negotiate now before the season starts. These refs are going to cost a team dearly, when the season starts. They have made some horrible calls in the preseason, and I don’t blame the players having something to say about it.
    Get the job done for goodness sake.

  5. I stopped calling them “Replacement” Officials weeks ago. If they take the field, they’re the “Officials!” I’m sure there’ll be some mistakes. I’m also sure they’re getting plenty of training, and they have seemed just as good as those “other” officials have in past preseasons. I’d be rethinking my position on a part-time (hobby) job that puts more green in the pocket than most of we fans make!

  6. “We’re about to get at least 16 regular-season games for the replacements to show that the league office is right — or to show that the NFL is jeopardizing the integrity of the game by refusing to finalize a deal.”

    First, the integrity of the game has already been compremized. Second, how is there any possibility that the league office is right in this situation?

  7. One good thing about this ordeal is that, once the real ones come back, maybe people will start appreciating them for what they’re worth: the best officials of the big four sports leagues.

    The SUBSTANTIAL drop-off in quality between the first tier of guys and the second really tells a lot about how good the first tier is.

  8. This should motivate the better team to dominate it’s opponent so a bad call will not make the difference.

  9. Great so the NFL is going on the cheap as usual. I hope during the Cowboys vs. Giants game next Wednesday these goofballs screw up a call that decides the outcome of the game. I agree with the article, the owners and league officials will change their tune as soon as a team wins due to a bonehead call.

  10. walker615 You’re right. It’s a business. You’re right that they are part time. So are the players.

    The issue is that replacements are undermining the game and its value. If that hurts your business, you must deal. That’s business.

    What happens to the NFL if the players strike? How much money is lost? Much more than if they make the business decision to deal!

  11. if you lose a game because of one bad call, you deserve to lose. You have multiple opportunities to blow your opponent out of the water so if you don’t capitalize on those opportunities, you only have yourself to blame.

  12. Should be pretty funny watching the circus on Sundays now. Can’t wait til they start ruining games with the same awful calls we saw in the preseason.

  13. Give me a break. There are lots of bad calls that decide regular season, and playoff games, all the time from the so-called “best of the best” regular officials. You talk about this like bad calls that decide games is something new that only started happening since the lockout. I don’t mind the talk about bad calls, but if you’re going to do it, why don’t you come up with some suggestions to get rid of all the non-reviewable BS judgment calls that “regular” officials make that wrongly decide games. That’s when I’ll start taking this discussion seriously.

  14. “Why on earth should part-time, highly compensated workers have fully loaded pensions, as they seem to be seeking?”

    Because that’s what they’ve always had? Yeah, it may be atypical for an employee to have that these days, but the NFL is an atypical business. Plus, it’s just common business negotiation sense — if you take something, you better be ready to give something.

    I understand that some feel the refs are overpaid. And maybe they are. But even if they are, why do you think they should just willingly give up money? Would you? Of course not.

    Plus, there’s two sides to that coin anyway. The owners have much deeper pockets — why can’t they swallow the divide?

  15. This is atrocious. A multi-billion dollar enterprise and they are going to tarnish it because they don’t want to pay the refs? The guys who keep some semblance of fairness alive in the game? Really? What a joke. The NFL and the owners have just gone overboard with the greed here. Its going to bite them in the butt hard.

  16. So in terms of “number of blown calls,” the replacement referees are roughly equal to the regular refs. Maybe a couple of more, depending on the crew.

    However, due to their unfamiliarity, one thing all these crews seem to have in common is the *delay in making certain calls*.

    Holding calls that would take 5 seconds to explain take 25 seconds as these guys have a pow-wow to discuss what happened. After the call is finally made, you realize that they gave out an incorrect jersey number, so the TV station can’t figure out which replay angle to show viewers, so sometimes you don’t get to see with your own eyes who was called for holding.

    That’s what frustrates me more than anything – the interruption in the flow of the game.

  17. I remember back in the 80’s when the air traffic controllers were “irreplaceable”, well, all the cries of human lives being at stake fell on deaf ears and most all of them were replaced! We are just talking about a football game opposed to being 35,000 feet in the air!

    I have no problem with the “old guard” refs being replaced especially since they were so quick to criticize the new guys.

    If and when the old guard come back, they will make plenty of mistakes. It goes with the territory. How quick will the talking heads be to call them out since it is so easy to criticize the new ones?

  18. Also, while I don’t know the exact demands of which side of the dispute (so I’m staying neutral), just understand that unlike the rest of the economy, the NFL is doing EXTREMELY well.

    While most of us wouldn’t dream of asking for raises, understand that most of us aren’t working for a company with massive profits that are set to become even larger in 2014 with a new TV deal.

  19. Holy bananas my dreams are coming true!!!! I get to watch a full season without Triplette and Hochuli screwing up 3 huge plays a game and making up rules on the fly (the backward pass doesnt count as a fumble because the QB meant to throw it forward)!!!!

  20. Right now the league has all the leverage and it will only swing the players way if the replacements cost a team a win over a blown call or screw up. If they are solid or even somewhat decent then the referees are real trouble.

  21. One more time for the record:

    The NFL offered the refs a DOUBLE in salary over steady increases in a 5 year span. The average ref currently makes $80k/year, aside from all air/ground transportation, hotels, food expenses, etc. This would mean in 2017 the average ref would stand to make $160k per year, same exemptions aside.

    And the refs said it wasn’t good enough. I’m sorry but the game is about the players NOT the refs. The players compromised to get back on the field. If the refs truly cared about the game and not their own egos I can only assume they’d have done the same by now.

  22. I applaud the NFL for holding their ground. Yes, the league makes a ton of money, but that shouldn’t mean an open checkbook. The replacements will have some difficulty at first adjusting to the speed of the game, but they will get better and ultimately turn out just fine.

  23. When the regular guys do come back to work, they had better be flawless. If they are going to take these unreasonable positions – big raises, continuing defined benefit pension for part-time work, limited accountability, blocking NCAA Division I refs from working – then they better not do ANYTHING that “endangers the integrity of the game” or “risks player safety.”

  24. It’s not like the regular refs have never missed a call costing a team a game before.

    The difference is these guys are under far more scrutiny because they’re under the microscope right now.

  25. Sure there may be a few mistakes but by week 4 the replacement refs will have all the bugs worked out and we won’t need the regular officials. I’m tired of the announcers acting like this is the end of the world. The replacements are doing a good job. I hope the regular officials are permanently replaced.
    The players are going on strike over this….don’t make me laugh!!! The players are all talk.

  26. This may be a rough year but these officials will get better. We’re not talking about the players here who are blessed with freakish size and physical abilities. We’re talking about ordinary people who have been trained to do a job.
    So consider this new set of ordinary people as trainees forced into action ahead of what would be ideal.. and move on!

  27. they’re having a full meeting at midfield after every call to make sure they got it right, lol.. week 1 will be the true test

  28. “A bad call that costs a team a regular-season game would surely amplify the cries for the league to get a deal done with its officials,”

    ….because a bad call has never cost a team a regular season game with the “real” officials?

    Give me a break, the officiating has always sucked. As long as both teams are playing with the same officials I don’t see the problem”

    All these players that are sounding off about bad preseason officiating are just doing their duty of being a union hingehead. Have to support the union officials!!!

  29. They are capable of doing the job.

    I’m capable of performing brain surgery.

    The missing word in both sentences is “successfully” as in “capable of successfully doing the job”.

  30. Referees or officials are human beings and are gonna make mistakes from time to time. If a bad call determines the outcome of a game, whether it be a misapplied rule or a judgement call, then the teams playing put themselves in that predicament. The officials have no control over fumbles, interceptions, dropped passes, missed PAT’s, etc. Besides, you could, technically, call holding on every snap if you really wanted to. If teams have to depend on a call from the officials to decide who wins and who loses, thats on the teams playing not the officials. Officials never decide the outcome of the games. The teams playing do.

  31. I hope the “real” officials realize that when they do come back, every call they make will now be under the microscope with the way they’ve called out these replacement refs every chance they could.

  32. If we go a few weeks with replacements these clowns, that are locked out, are history. Who cares if they ever officiate again?

  33. If the “regular” officials work out a deal and come back I hope the media still shines a light on the horrible calls they routinely make, as opposed to just the replacement officials now. Funny how now all of a sudden everyone wants to comment on bad officiating like its some new thing.

  34. “Tuck Rule”. Sorry veteran refs. That call lost the credibility you had. Even the worst call a replacement ref makes this season cant match that.

  35. sure,the replacement guys will struggle…..but they will climb a steep learning curve fast….and by mid season will be fine….a win or loss does not come down to a single decision by a single ref…..over the entire course of a game each team has plenty of opportunities to win,or loss,all by themselves,regardless of the officiating…..

  36. Doesn’t matter. Deep in my heart I know that the thing that really decides Packer games is whether or not I wear my lucky jersey.

  37. It is very irresponsible and unethical for the media and NFLRA to constantly hammer the new refs when the olds ref blew big time calls nearly every game and yet no one could speak a word about their performance. The fact of the matter is the old refs refuse to be held accountable for their on field performance and thats why they wont agree to a new deal.

  38. It seems like some of you are under the delusion that this is of the officials’ doing. They’re not striking, they’re being locked out. Blame the NFL, they’re the ones that deserve it.

  39. Oh, and I love these comments to the effect of “Who cares? The officiating has always been terrible.”

    You can have occasional blown calls, or you can have more frequently blown calls. The absence of perfection doesn’t mean it’s time to throw your hands in the air and say “they all suck.” Odds are that you probably don’t want to know how bad it can get.

  40. This is absurd! There are 14 teams that do not have pension plans for their own employees, but it is okay for the NFLRA to demand that for their PART-TIME employees? They make more for their part-time jobs, where they get to travel and work a few hours a week for a portion of the year, than most people make in years, and they want us to feel bad for them! No thanks. These replacements are bad, and they are driving us all nuts, but hopefully they will improve. Bring on the NFL regular season and let the real football commence!

  41. This is embarrassing, and they better NOT cost my guys vs. those clowns next week in East Rutherford.

    Every Giants game they’ve officiated this preseason has been BRUTAL with the number of missed calls for holding against our defensive ends/tackles and the pass interference calls seem to be lost on them.

  42. I cant wait until the replacement officials cost a team a game. Itll be funny when they take a td away from calvin johnson…. oops… or when they get calls wrong even after instant replay…. oops…. or when they get judgement calls totally wrong… oops.

    Wait, the difference between the replacement refs and regular refs is… what?

  43. The regular officials make horrible calls that cost teams games all the time. The replacements haven’t been great. I’ll give you that. They’ve made some inexcusable errors. That said, I think they’re much better at callin and not calling pass interference. The regular official call such ticky tack PI calls. The replacement are also better at calling holding calls. Regular officials ruined the flow of the game in the same way that NBA refs do by stopping the game everytime down court.

  44. Billsfan has it right.
    You can throw a rock and hit someone that is capable of reffing an NFL game, but by the looks of pre-season, these guys (and girl) haven’t given anyone confidence that they won’t mess it up. Well, anyone not named Jerry Jones.

    Goodell and company have a trillion dollar product that risk credibility due to scab officials.

  45. These hacks who claim that the regulars are that bad — they’re right 90% of the time — are off base. These guys are blowing tons of ROUTINE calls and generally do not know the rules. Even with a league officiating rep giving them tips in their earpieces.

    The NFL is embarrassing for being so cheap. PAY THE REGULARS. You are charging optimum price for subpar collective product with these Pop Warner refs.

  46. Everybody better hope a crucial wrong call dont cost their team a victory,yes the real NFL refs were wrong many times but its miniscule compared to the atrocious stuff we will see coming up soon,if you dont support the regular refs strike right now hang on, you will in the near future when they cost your team multiple victories making really bad call or no calls at all.

  47. It is very hard to see how this is going to work out for the league – they have already conceded they WILL be resolving this issue with the NFLRA in the near future.

    So they DO plan on bringing back the old refs – based on the performance of the replacements, it would seem at some point the league will be negotiating from a position of weakness. The difference is about $62,000.00 per team, per season if they win outright – which is not going to happen, so what are they really saving with this strategy?

    Their egos are so big it would appear the league just doesn’t know when to fold them, this is will not end well for the NFL. Poor strategy that will leave them de-leveraged in this negotiation.

  48. Good. I for one, like the replacements. The old refs were complacent with no fear of retribution for bad calls. I believe in time the replacements will be better, in a few years we will all say this was ultimately good for the integrity of the game.

  49. Let’s not forget that another thing the refs are fighting against is accountability. The league wants to hire more refs so that if refs are performing poorly they can be replaced on the fly in the middle of the season.

    The refs do not want to be accountable. They want lifetime security regardless of performance.

  50. I actually agree with the NFL wanting to hire more refs in order to have greater accountability (say goodnight, Jeff Triplett). But pushing it to this point – actually starting the season with refs that, under any scenario, are not prepared or experienced enough to handle the speed of pro football – is negligent. Someone is going to get hurt and some meaningful games are going to be affected by this. In addition, the League’s image is going to take a beating. They look petty in doing this.

  51. Some of you folks have short memories.

    During the regular season last year, the real ref’s made several terrible calls. The NFL stuck their heads in the sand, and initally denied the claim. After repeatidly showing replays and listening to several commentators, they finally admitted that their might have been a slight oversight . (sometimes) The NFL also sent several nasty-grams to various coaches/teams for critizing calls/plays.

    Godell’s integrity of the game includes Bounty-gate, but not Scab-gate. I’m not surprised.
    Money is the bottom line.

  52. I can see it now. Cowboys playing the Redskins, Randy Replacement steps in to signal time out and says Time out New York. I can’t wait.. Goodell you are an idiot

  53. jbythebay says:
    Aug 29, 2012 2:51 PM
    if you lose a game because of one bad call, you deserve to lose. You have multiple opportunities to blow your opponent out of the water so if you don’t capitalize on those opportunities, you only have yourself to blame.

    Have you ever played a competitive sport in your life? Especially in the NFL, every athlete in uniform is one of the best of the best. There are times that the outcome of a game comes down to one play. Therefore, the argument could be made that IF a mistake were to be made on said play, it could determine the outcome of the game. I’m not saying that replacement refs are more likely to make a mistake, I’m more disagreeing with your opinion that you deserve to lose a game if a critical call that should go your way ends up going against you. To me, that doesn’t make sense.

  54. we had bad calls before we have bad calls now. if the old refs were under the same microscope they would be under the same scrutiny. both teams are playing with the same refs.

  55. I call them Scabs and don’t be surprised if it happens to you. Cutting the future of their fellow man and children’s throats. It’s all ready tough enough to support a family, much less taking another mans job. It’s happening all over.

  56. All that the regular part-time officials need to do is sign the NFL’s offer. It’s more than fair but they’re greedy. I hope that the replacements stay the whole season.

  57. Here’s how pathetic this has become: In the final minute of the Pats-Giants game tonight the officials reviewed to see if the Giants had 12 men on the field (they did). It took FIVE FULL MINUTES for them to count to 12!!!

    The scabs are bad. All there is to it.

  58. Don’t understand the reasoning they are called scabs. Are they unionized and crossed the picket line?

    They are replacement officials. Think of them as temporary employees.

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