Hollywood eventually made a movie out of the 1987 players’ strike, from the perspective of the cup-of-coffee replacements who played. Now that the lockout of officials has ended after becoming national news, could Keanu Reeves be playing the role of Brian Stropolo?
Until then, it makes sense to consider what happens in the coming weeks and months with the folks who served as replacement officials. It’s likely if not definite that none will ever be hired by the NFL to be regular officials. Apart from the fact that the NFL culled the crews from multiple levels deep, the locked-out officials will never welcome folks who are regarded as “scabs” into the family.
Then there’s the taint (yeah, Beavis, I said taint) that applies to all of the replacements as a result of the Week Three officiating debacles. If any replacement ever becomes good enough to work at the NFL level, the fact that he (or she) served as a replacement in 2012 will be viewed as a negative.
Few if any will even become major-college officials, at least not until the regular NFL officials who serve as supervisors of officiating for multiple major conferences move on. Beyond that, the stigma of being part of the biggest officiating debacle in modern sports history will make these folks, to a certain degree, radioactive.
The most intriguing possibility from our perspective is a tell-all book. We’ve got a feeling, however, that the contracts signed by the replacements include strong language preventing them from talking or writing about what they learned, witnessed, heard, etc. while working for the NFL.
Look for sports and news organizations to at least try to get these folks to talk. If none do, the message is clear: The NFL wisely purchased their silence preemptively.