NFL Replacement Refs: Should We Be Worried About the 2012 Season?

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NFL Replacement Refs: Should We Be Worried About the 2012 Season?
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
Replacement officials will be trained up to NFL standards, but they will lack the actual game experience.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell doesn't want there to be worry among fans about replacement officials for the upcoming 2012 season.

“I was with them in camp over the last couple of days, they’re excited," Goodell told "NFL AM" on Friday. "They are working hard to make sure they are ready for the season. We are going to make sure they are prepared and ready to go.”

Fans and players, however, do not share his sentiments. At least not right away. Fan comments left on a story on the NFL's website regarding the replacement refs were mostly unfavorable toward the league's stance.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Dallas Clark was completely unaware that replacement refs were even being considered for the Hall of Fame game.

"Get out. Wow," Clark told USA Today's Rachel George after she was apparently the one that broke the news to him.

"That's one of those things that you never want to say that refs win or lose games or things like that. But in a situation like that, who knows what could happen with certain situations of a game that they might not handle it correctly."

Chicago Bears offensive lineman Roberto Garza is guardedly optimistic, according to a story in the Chicago Tribune.

"They've been around the game," Garza said of the normal officials. "They know what they're doing. But we might be able to get away with more. That would be good for us."

But just as any man at the helm of his industry would be, Goodell is broadcasting himself as confident that talks with the normal officials will materialize in a positive direction soon.

"We are in discussions with them," Goodell told Sports Illustrated. "We've had discussions recently. Hopefully we'll have more discussions with them in the near future. But as you can see, we're preparing for the season and we will have officials on the field."

The NFL has yet to release the names of replacement officials for fear that their credentials will be dug up and their character attacked.

Greg Aiello, a league spokesman, said the NFL has a policy of making the officials' names available at game time, and that protocol would be followed.

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