NFL considers replacement referees - a disaster waiting to happen?

GREEN BAY WI - OCTOBER 17: Mike McCarthy of the Green Bay Packers argues with Ed Hochuli #85 as he follows him and other officials on the field after a controversial call in the 4th quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Lambeau Field on October 17 2010 in Green Bay Wisconsin. The Dolphins defeated the Packers 23-20 in overtime. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)

Yes, the NFL is involved in yet another labor dispute. This time, the NFL Referees Association is the one taking offense to the NFL's proposed compensation. The NFLRA has denied that it wants to organize a strike, but the NFL is looking at replacement referees in the absence of a new collective bargaining agreement. Yep, this is going to be fun. A lot of people complain about the refereeing in the NFL, but these people are the very best and most experienced at what they do. Replacement referees almost have to be worse. That could be disastrous.

That's exactly Joel Thorman's opinion: the replacement refs are a disaster waiting to happen.

The NFL is looking at a few spots for potential replacement referees, which includes retired college referees and even Arena league referees. One area where they're not looking for replacements is the BCS, perhaps the only place in which there might be qualified referees.

Because of this, the quality of referees would likely be significantly lower. When you're operating in a billion dollar business, you can't have something as critical as officiating decrease in quality. Whether it's because of a blown call that leads to an injury or changes the outcome of the game, I wouldn't be surprised to see grievances and/or lawsuits stemming from the use of replacement referees.

Something else to consider is that many of the referees who could be qualified to officiate an NFL game likely won't want to leave their current job for only the chance that they could work in the NFL. Is one of the top college referees going to leave his job only to find out a month later that the NFL and NFLRA came to an agreement and his services aren't needed? With that in mind, the quality of referees could be even lower than you'd initially think.

The second issue involves the health and safety of players, a key point in last year's labor talks between the owners and players. NFL players are already expressing their concern with the possibility of using replacement referees. Chiefs offensive tackle Eric Winston sarcastically said on Twitter that this is going to go over "REAL well." Others have chimed in as well expressing concern.

This is going to be fun.

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