Lockout with no clockout: NFL expects replacement refs well into regular season
People, the NFL regular season begins in just 21 days -- and we've still got officials getting the coin toss wrong. At least Oakland Raiders fans will start the season with a whole new treasury of explanations on how the referees jobbed them again.
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter and Chris Mortenson, the NFL expects the replacement referees to continue working into the regular season. Schefty and Mort also note that the NFL has sent the replacement refs their assignments for both Week 2 and Week 3 of the preseason.
As Michael David Smith shrewdly observes over at ProFootballTalk.com, this is not so much "reporting" as it is "repeating". The NFL clearly leaked this information intentionally to the ESPN reporters to broadcast how determined they are to keep playing chicken with the referees' union. "The league wants the officials to think that if they don’t give in, they’re going to be watching the start of the season from their couches, while the replacement officials are working the games and collecting the paychecks," Smith says.
Schefter and Mortenson's source estimated the the lockout of the NFL referees would not be resolved until Week 3 of the regular season (September 20-24).
The league and the referees' union are stalled on two negotiation points -- the NFL wants the referees to become full-time employees, and they want more officiating crews in circulation.
Currently, the referees are part-time employees who get $3,000-$8000 per game, depending on their tenure. Most officials hold separate, full-time jobs -- and they'd like to keep it that way for financial security.
While it is generally true that most fans seem to side with the officials and want the NFL to budge, don't count on it. I hear plenty of complaining about the replacement referees, but I don't hear anyone threatenting to boycott watching NFL games.