One of the most difficult jobs has to be officiating professional sports. First of all, you get all the terrible travel of being an athlete, but not the first-class planes, fancy locker rooms, and millions of dollars. Then, giant muscle-head men yell at you for doing your job, millionaires critize you in front of millions, and that’s not even counting all the trouble with your employers. The protracted struggle between the NFL and the National Football League Referees Association drags on, and the NFL has announced that it will use replacement referees when the season kicks off. The NFLRA, like the NFL Players Association, is finding out that the NFL does not negotiate with unions.
“We are not surprised, based on [NFL vice president of football operations] Ray Anderson’s statements … that the NFL was not going to reach out to us,” admitted NFLRA spokesman Michael Arnold. ”However, this is consistent with the NFL’s negotiating strategy which has been ‘take it or leave it and lock them out. It now appears the NFL is willing to forego any attempt to reach a deal in the last seven days before opening night.”
When the New York Giants meet the Dallas Cowboys on September 5, the officials will be the error-prone replacement officials that have been stinking up the preseason. Fortunately, there’s expanded replay this season, which will help on turnovers and touchdowns, but even with the assistance of the league’s official supervisors, there will be plenty of blown calls. Unlike the 2001 lockout, this season’s officials are typically sub-NCAA Division 1 referees from smaller conferences and lesser professional leagues.
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