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NFL to Go Into Season with Replacement Refs

Get ready for blown calls, penalties for things normally done in Pop Warner not the NFL, and longer than usual Sunday afternoons in fall.  Replacement refs are here to stay for the foreseeable future.

The NFL will open the regular season next week with replacement officials and said it was prepared to use them “as much … as necessary” afterward.

Replacements will be on the field beginning next Wednesday night when the Dallas Cowboys visit the New York Giants to open the season, league executive Ray Anderson told the 32 teams. Negotiations are at a standstill between the NFL and the officials’ union.

The NFL Referees Association was locked out in early June and talks on a new collective bargaining agreement have gone nowhere. Replacements have been used throughout the preseason, with mixed results.

In 2001, the NFL used replacements for the first week of the regular season before a contract was finalized. The speed of the game and the amount of time starters are on the field increase exponentially for real games, making the replacements’ task more challenging.

Anderson, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, told the clubs in a memo Wednesday that the replacements will work “as much of the regular season as necessary,” adding that training with each crew will continue.

The NFL noted it has expanded the use of instant replay as an officiating tool this year to include all scoring plays and turnovers. Officiating supervisors will be on hand to assist the crews on game administration issues.

Mind you, this is a lockout, not a strike.  The refs want to get paid more, the owners are unwilling to give them a raise.  Hence the standoff.

Wonder if we’re going to hear much from the #WIUnion folks on this one next Sunday.  That’s when the first Packers home game is against the San Francisco 49ers.

Meanwhile, the players’ union is vowing “Solidarity” with the locked out referees.  One questions how much “solidarity” can exist when the lowest-paid rookie on the kick return unit next Sunday at Lambeau Field is pulling down 6 to 7 times more than the ref will for that game.  Rookie minimum’s about $23,000 a week in the NFL.  Being the head of a refereeing crew gets you about $3,500 a game.

No wonder guys like Ed Hochuli, the most well-known ref (and upper body) in the NFL’s refereeing community, is a million-dollar trial lawyer the other six days of the week.

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