Unless you are Ed Hochuli wearing a smedium referee shirt with arms that would make Hulk Hogan jealous, NFL referees should not be well-known public figures.
Of course, Lance Easley isn't an actual NFL referee. He is a replacement referee. More specifically, he is the replacement referee who made the touchdown call on Monday night that cost the Green Bay Packers a win and set the Internet on fire.
Easley, in so many ways, has become the face of the NFL this season. That speaks to the bigger problems that the league has with these replacement officials than anything to do with the players on the field.
The sad part of the whole missed-call fiasco is that Easley was a referee who wasn't fit to work at the college level, according to Karl Richins of the Stars and Stripes Academy for Football Officials (via USA Today):
"I'm getting e-mails saying, 'Boy, you must be proud.' This is not what we intended for our officiating students to do. We train officials to work at the Division I level."
"At no time do we say, 'We can train you for the NFL.' After three days at our academy, Lance was determined by our staff not to be ready for Division I officiating."
While the league was put in an unenviable situation with the lockout of its regular officials, there has to be some accountability.
Easley is not to blame for the mistakes, because the NFL enabled someone to officiate who was deemed unfit for college football, let alone the NFL.
There is no excuse for Easley to be on the field any longer. He made an incorrect call that cost a team a game and could have serious ramifications on the postseason race.
The NFL can release all the statements it wants in support of the call that was made, but deep down it knows that something has to happen. You can't continue to have the referees be the story of the games, or else the entire integrity of the game is shot.
Nothing that Easley has done warrants continued employment in the NFL. He became the focus of a game because of a critical error, and he has had his qualifications questioned by someone who worked with him.
The bigger issue here is getting the regular officials back, which ESPN's Chris Mortensen is reporting could be as soon as this weekend (via Adam Schefter), but until that officially happens, the league can't continue to turn on blinders with the decisions that replacement officials like Easley are making.
As @mortreport is reporting, an agreement between NFL and NFLRA is at hand and both sides will work to have officials working this weekend.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 26, 2012
Easley has no business being on an NFL field ever again. He can go back to the high school ranks where he can keep up with the pace and understand the rules, but the highest level of the sport is not for him.
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