NFL officials are blowing the whistle on the NFLs plan to replace them.
Lost somewhat amid all the discussion of Bountygate, free agent comings and goings and various player arrests this summer is this: The NFL as of now has locked out its referees as of early June and is in the process of hiring replacement referees should the dispute not be settled before the season starts.
CBSSports.com got its hands on a memo the league sent out concerning replacement refs, and as CBSSports Mike Freeman wrote, what the NFL wants in its replacement refs is scary.
Major college conferences forbid their referees from also working NFL games. So whos left?
According to Freeman, the memo from the NFLs director of recruiting, Ron Baynes, indicated that the league is looking for:
1. An Official who have recently retired from a successful career in College officiating and is still physically able to officiate at a high level of competency.
"2. Lower division college officials, professional league officials and semi-professional league officials whose window of opportunity for advancement has pretty much closed but who have the ability to work higher levels but just got overlooked."
Says Freeman: This is amazing. The NFL is going to trust its billion-dollar business to semi-pro refs and dudes who just got off the back nine?
The dispute, as it usually does, boils down to money. The officials, whose threat to strike precipitated the lockout, say the NFL planned to lock them out all along.
"Lockout seems to be their negotiating strategy with everyone," referee Scott Green, president of the referees union, told the Associated Press. "We don't want to be locked out. We want to get back to the table and get this resolved."
Current and former referees also say that using replacement officials could compromise player safety.
The integrity of the game will be compromised when you put people out on the field who have no idea of the timing, rules or management of the game or player safety, MikePereira, former NFL vice president of officiating, told a Fox Sports Radio show. Much like not seeing the best players, you wont be seeing the best officiating. Youre going to have people that have never officiated player safety rules at this level before and that will lead to mistakes.