Just in case anyone out there misses the labor strife that marked the NFLs last off-season, here comes another one, between the league and its officials.
USA Today reported that the NFL likely will start the season with replacement referees, citing a person with knowledge of the negotiations between the league and the NFL Referees Association.
"I will be very surprised if there are not games played with scabs or replacement officials," the source told USA Today.
At issue are proposed changes to the officials pension plan. The NFL contends the refs would end up better off with the new plan. An NFL spokesman said Tuesdays labor talks ended when the union "made a pension proposal that was entirely inconsistent with what they agreed to at the last session with the mediators.''
Under the proposal on the table, the NFL said, first-year officials, who average 78,000 in salary, would make over 165,000 by the last year of the deal in 2018. Remember, officiating isn't a full-time job.
Should fans care? Absolutely.
Because officials in BCS conferences are tied to NFL officials, replacements wouldnt come from their ranks. Instead, they would be from non-BCS leagues, retired referees and indoor football, ESPN.com reported. So the NFL wouldnt even be getting the next highest level of officiating.
Therefore, not only would we see more questionable calls, but there is also the potential impact on player safety, such a huge emphasis by the NFL right now. Officiating is a large component of avoiding the dangerous plays that the league wants to outlaw. Its unreasonable to assume replacement refs would be as capable of policing these actions as the regular refs.
Plus, wouldnt you miss seeing Ed Hochuli show off his biceps?