NFL Replacement Officials: New Officials Wouldn't Hurt On-Field Product
Another year, another potential labor crisis for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. This time, though, it involved the NFL officials. While the quality of officiating can have a direct impact on the outcome of a game, this situation doesn't seem to be as dire as one might expect.
According to Fox Sports NFL reporter Alex Marvez, the league is considering using replacement officials if a labor deal with the NFL officials isn't worked out before games start up in August.
[NFL director of recruiting officials Ron] Baynes has suggested his scouts target officials who recently retired from college officiating as well as current “lower-division college, professional league and semi-professional league officials whose window of opportunity for advancement has pretty much closed but who have the ability to work higher levels but just got overlooked.”
NFL officials have a thankless job; If they do it well, no one has any idea who they are. If they are in on all the action and trying to overshadow the game, they are going to be accused of trying to take away from the game.
Will The Quality Of Games Suffer If The NFL Has To Use Replacement Officials?
Should there come a point where the league has to use replacement officials, the games are still going to be the same as they ever were. It's not as if the NFL is just going to pluck some random person off the street who is wearing a black and white striped shirt.
The people in charge of making these decisions—Baynes and everyone working with him—will have countless hours of video to watch these officials, scouting reports from their current or previous employers and thousands of pages to file through to determine how effective they are.
Unlike Major League Baseball, where the umpires seemingly try to take over the action, football officials are much more grounded in the way they handle themselves on the field. Since there are going to be a lot of plays where they aren't calling penalties, they are rarely given the chance to take over the game.
Replacement officials is not like using replacement players; the skill it requires to play the game is vastly different than what it takes to call a game. If this labor strife reaches a point where replacements have to be used, everything will be fine, the game won't change and eventually the NFL and its officials will agree on a deal that will make both sides happy.
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