Aug 9, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; NFL referee Shannon Eastin repositions the goal line marker before the opening kick-off of a game between the San Diego Chargers and Green Bay Packers at Qualcomm Stadium. Eastin is the first female referee to ever officiate an game in the NFL. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE

"Scabs" Officiating NFL Games as Lockout for Referees Continues

If you’ve noticed a much slower pace for NFL preseason games this year along with TONS more flags than usual, there’s a reason for it.

Much like the NFL locked out the players last season, they’ve done the same thing to NFL officials this season.

Michael Arnold of the NFLRA says “The league has apparently predetermined that they’re going to keep us locked out until the third or fourth week of the regular season. Their strategy has always been lockout. We feel they’ve had a strategy from the beginning to lock us out.”

Of course, an NFL spokesman said the league was ready and willing to negotiate with them at any time.

Yeah, right. What’s he gonna say? They plan to keep the refs away from the field until Ed Hochuli gets two consecutive calls right?

I remember as a child and younger man watching Dallas Cowboys games. Remember a gentleman named Jerry Markbreit? He was a great NFL official for decades and I recall many years ago learning that ALL NFL officials had other jobs. Markbreit was a manager at 3M. I vaguely remember another was a bank president.

It’s hard to believe in this day and age of multi-million dollar salaries that the NFL is still so cheap that they can’t splurge and spend $20 million a year or whatever the number is on full-time officials. Major League Baseball has them, but they play 146 more games (!!)

The NFL has the most complicated rule book in all of sports and has 7 or 8 officials watching 106 players plus coaches and assistants. Yes, they have to watch the coaches as New York Jets assistant coach Sal Alosi discovered in December of 2010 when Miami Dolphin defender Nolan Carroll was covering a punt. Carroll, a gunner, was forced out of bounds along the Jets’ sideline and Alosi stuck his knee out, causing Carroll to tumble to the turf. The Jets lost the game and the coach as they fired him.

So, the players on the field aren’t the only responsibility the officials have.

The league is trying to emphasize more consistency in the calls the officials make this year and the result has been, in some games, nearly as many flags as there have been plays run. How does locking out the seasoned, part-time officials help make for more consistent application of the rule book, exactly?

Don’t get me wrong. The “scab” officials aren’t trained for the speed of the NFL and they’re out there hustling and doing their best. I commend them for entering a no-win situation and toughing things out, but I’m not buying what the NFL is selling here.

They knew about concussions for decades and did nothing until the problems became more public and very graphic and shocking. Now, they’re setting up “councils” and “review boards” and “concussion symptom protocols” – trying to behave like they’re being proactive about it but the reality is they’ve been slow to RE-act to it.

Now, they’ve locked out the officials, claim to want more consistency, and say they’re ready and willing to talk to the NFLRA, while Commissioner Roger Goodell says the two sides have “philosophical differences.”


Apparently so…because the NFL is acting like a bad insurance company and the officials just want to be treated fairly. The NFL appears to be in no hurry whatsoever to resolve this.

Yep…that would qualify as “philosophical differences” all right!

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Tags: NFL Officials Lockout NFLRA Lockout

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