Discussion of replacement referees has become a bit of a political football, with the NFL on one side of the discussion and (seemingly) everyone else on the other. While the league's regular stable of on-field officials negotiates their new labor agreement, the NFL has poached referees, line judges and the like from the lower college and high-school ranks.
Not everyone is happy with the results, a curious thought for evaluating the work of people whom we're ignoring at least 90 percent of the game. While the replacements haven't been great, they haven't exactly been terrible, and their impact on the games that they're working is negligible. As Jerry Jones told USA Today, the bad calls will be made both ways.
Also, consider that the roles of NFL officials have been altered slightly over the years. Most game-changing calls, including all scoring plays and all turnovers (the latter in effect for the first time this year), are subject to replay review. (Levy wants to see the league office in New York handle such reviews, similar to what the NHL does with its own replay system, but I'm getting ahead of myself.)
The only critical plays now are the ones that involve the "defenseless receiver" protocol, plays that are pivotal when considering the safety implications and sudden swings of yardage that those calls (and no-calls) entail.
Bleacher Report's national lead writer Dan Levy and I discuss the impact that replacement officials are making on the NFL's preseason in our latest debate. Thanks for watching.
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