The NFL has decided to use replacement referees to start the 2012 NFL season—a contemptible move that will inevitably wreak havoc on the quality of the games being played.
Replacements will be on the field beginning next Wednesday night when the Dallas Cowboys visit the New York Giants to open the season, league executive Ray Anderson told the 32 teams. Negotiations are at a standstill between the NFL and the officials' union.
This standstill is ridiculous. More than that, it's absolutely asinine.
According to SI.com's Peter King, the whole situation could potentially be solved by increasing the amount spent towards the officials by "$12 million or $15 million over a seven-year period."
That's a drop in the bucket compared to the billions of dollars the NFL rakes in every year (h/t Hunter Howard).
So, now that we understand how silly this standstill is, let's take a look at how replacement officials are going to ruin the NFL.
Games Will Take Longer
If you've watched any amount of football this preseason, then you already know that there've been numerous instances where there's literally dead air on the television because the officials don't know what the heck they're doing.
Between Tony Romo needing to insist that the ball be placed within the hash-marks of the field and the too-many-to-count instances where the officials on the field needed to confer with the league representative on the sidelines, games are taking forever to be completed.
Simply put, these replacement refs don't know the rules. It's an embarrassment, and I'm stunned that the league isn't ashamed.
Teams Will Be Forced to Use Challenges to Reverse Terrible Decisions
Chan Gailey had to waste a challenge on that garbage call, and I guarantee you there will be plenty more of that happening once the regular season begins and games matter.
Yahoo! Sports' Doug Farrar enlightens us on where these stooges have come from to reach the NFL:
Many of these officials come from the high school or college sub-division level, one was fired from the Pac-10 back when it was the Pac-10 in a sweep-through of underqualified refs, another was fired from his teaching job for sending hate crime-level mail, and another may have been fired from the Lingerie Football League. They were trained in the speed and complexity of the NFL game for a grand total of two months before they were let loose on an unsuspecting league.
When you understand the quality of the refs being chosen, it's no surprise that they are flailing about like a willow tree in a hurricane at the speed of the NFL.
They are going to continue making epic mistakes, and it's going to cost teams their challenges.
Games Will Be Lost Due to Replacement Refs
Ultimately, the biggest reason these replacement refs will ruin the NFL in 2012 is that games will be decided by their bad calls.
Phantom personal fouls, phantom pass-interference penalties and random holding calls are going to cost teams games. That's the bottom line of this whole mess.
Unfortunately, the decision to use these scabs could potentially cost a team a playoff spot in 2012, and that should never happen.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78