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Pereira says NFL is embellishing the credentials of replacement officials

It’s safe to say that FOX’s Mike Pereira won’t be going back to work for the NFL any time soon.

Appearing Tuesday on WSCR’s McNeil & Speigel Show, Pereira said that the NFL is embellishing the credentials of the replacement officials.

Regarding Craig Ochoa, for example, who served as the referee during the Hall of Fame game, Pereira says that the league has trumped up Ochoa’s experience level.

“They’ve tried to say that Craig Ochoa . . . was a BCS official, that he worked in the Big Ten. He didn’t work in the Big Ten. He’s not been a major college official. I don’t think the NFL is going to say that he actually got released midway through the last Lingerie Football League season as a referee. I don’t think the league is going to put that out. The league wants as little out as possible. They don’t want people talking about it. They don’t want me talking about it.”

Pereira also suggested that, when NFL coaches are talking about it, they’re saying good things about the replacement officials because the league has told them to say good things about the officials. And that claim carries extra weight because Pereira was the V.P. of officiating the last time the league locked out the regular officials -- and when the league presumably sent out an edict to the teams to say good things about the replacements.

Or, at a minimum, to not say bad things about them.

Pereira has said he has no horse in this fight. If anything, he risks getting some blowback from FOX for being too candid about the situation, especially if the NFL decides to apply a little Playmakers-style muscle to one of its “broadcast partners.” And so when the guy who ran the officiating department says that replacement officials, none of whom this time around will come from the NCAA Division I conferences, compromise the integrity of the game, we’ll defer to the expertise, knowledge, and experience that allows Pereira to reach that conclusion.

“The risk is too great for the amount of money that’s being talked about,” Pereira says.

Amen, we say. And the more that people in the media pay attention to what Pereira is saying, the more equipped the fans will be to believe something other than, “The regular officials stink anyway, so who cares?”