NFL: Why the League Needs to Bring Back the Real Referees at Any Cost

Travis WakemanCorrespondent IISeptember 2, 2012

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 18:  Umpire Rich Hall #49 and referee Ed Hochuli #85 over see the action between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 18, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Bengals 24-22.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Is the NFL actually planning to open the regular season with replacement referees? According to reports from the latest talks, it definitely is.

For those fans who have watched some of these replacement referees in action during the preseason, most would likely agree that would not be a good decision.

Whether it's blowing calls, awkwardly announcing their calls or just not knowing the signals associated with the penalties, these referees have been laughable at best.

But with the NFL regular season set to open in one week, the league needs to get serious about these talks. The referees are reportedly upset over their pension, with the NFL wanting to implement more of a 401(k) package for them.

Aside from that, the refs want a little bit more of a pay raise. With the NFL raking in over eight billion dollars annually, it shouldn't be too hard to give 119 guys another $40,000 a year, should it? After all, these referees work other jobs during the offseason.

The game suffering because these referees are not there is the biggest issue. Why should these professional athletes be officiated by amateurs? How safe will the game actually be with these replacements? Isn't safety one of Commissioner Roger Goodell's key focuses? The NFL is by far the most popular sport in the country, and for that reason alone, it shouldn't be judged by people who, in large part, have no clue what they're doing.

To be fair, the replacement officials are doing their best, but it's not something they're totally familiar with. An NFL referee puts in numerous hours every week in order to be the best possible. The rules change often, and the referees not only have to be familiar with the changes, but also have to study film on top of that.

Like most lockouts, it's a battle between two sides that don't want to cave. But after watching the preseason, Goodell's claims that the replacement referees will do a "credible job" are puzzling. Likewise, the referees could realize that making some money is better than not getting paid. After all, the games will go on with or without them.

Once a game is blown by a horrible call or three to four weeks have gone by and the real referees have yet to collect a paycheck, one side will give in. But why should it have to come to that? If the NFL really believed in player safety and had its fans' best interests in mind, then it would give them and the players the best officials possible.

So if you've missed guys like Ed Hochuli and Walt Coleman, you're not alone. And hopefully, we see them on an NFL field sooner rather than later.