In 2011, the National Football League locked out its players to get them to accept contract concessions. In 2012, it’s the referees’ turn. Preseason play started this week with replacement officials brought in from college football and, apparently, the Lingerie Football League. (Eds Note- No, the author is NOT talking about the first women ref) If the NFL’s efforts to force players to take pay and benefit cuts and weak safety policies didn’t convince you that this is all about greedy billionaire owners, a second lockout of a second group of (much lower-paid) workers, again with possible safety repercussions for players, should go a ways toward convincing you.
The reviews of the officiating coming in are … not good. There’s the ref who confused Atlanta and Arizona and also, after forgetting to set the first down marker, had to announce that “the first down chains were not set prior to the snap so we shut the play down prior to the snap.” Elsewhere:
In Green Bay, a phantom unsportsmanlike conduct was called when Nick Perry started giving out tickets to the gun show. A terrible touchback call in Buffalo left fans at home and at the stadium booing. The call was reversed, but only after Buffalo had used a challenge.
Those same refs needed Chan Gailey to tell them how to do their jobs a second time following a delay of game penalty under two minutes.
The NFL has told teams not to discuss the replacement officials beyond league-approvedtalking points; New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, though, carefully but unmistakably went off-script following his team’s Thursday night game:
“I think Mike Pereira has made his comments on the officials,” Belichick said. “I don’t know who knows more about NFL officiating than Mike Pereira, so we’ll leave it to him. I’m just trying to coach our team and get our team better. I’m not worried about what everybody else is doing; it’s not my job.”
Pereira has said that the use of replacement officials undermines the integrity of the game. By expressly agreeing with Pereira, Belichick believes that the use of replacement officials undermines the integrity of the game.
Negotiations between the referees and the NFL centered around pay. But whatever the details, with the NFL having locked out two groups in succession, is it really possible to dispute that this is the league’s favored negotiating tactic?