According to Mike Freeman, the NFL sent a memo to its teams that the replacement referees would start the regular season. This could be just the latest exchange in the game of chicken between the game officials and the league regarding the lockout. Of course, at some point, there will be a drop-dead date where even if the officials sign a deal, they won’t be ready for the opening game. Have they been working out? Will Hochuli’s guns be as pronounced as they need to be? These are the pressing questions as we head toward the season starting in exactly one week.
My thought: the officials should absolutely call the league’s bluff here. Public outcry about officiating will dominate week 1. This will be true because there will invariably be bad calls (remember week 1 with Calvin Johnson two years ago), and that’s true even with the regular officials, but the din will be particularly loud here. The real range of referees, much like players, is broad, where the replacements will not outperform the best but may be near the bottom guys. We will see more questionable calls, just like we would see more questionable passes if everyone started their 3rd string quarterback.
The outcry, though, will be immense. Go ahead and start prepping the articles of outrage now. The NFL seems to be trying to squeeze every dollar. The officials, unlike the players, though, have longer careers and hopefully have planned for this. Also, whereas the outcry if last season had not started on time would have focused on the players to some extent, I think most will blame the league for not protecting their product here. Sit back and wait, officials, and let the NFL proceed with replacement referees. I don’t think it will hurt you in the long run.
[photo via US Presswire]