I hope everyone enjoyed the replacement officials that the league has used thus far in the preseason because the Associated Press is reporting that the NFL sent a memo out to all 32 teams today notifying them that they will use the replacements to start the 2012 season as negotiations remain at a standstill between the league and the officials\’ union.
The 2012 season gets underway next Wednesday with the New York Giants hosting the Dallas Cowboys and we can assume that the replacement officials will also work the opening weekend games as well.
The lockout of the NFL Referees Association started back in early June and there currently seems to be no resolution in sight in regard to a new CBA getting done with them. Back in 2001 the league used replacement officials for the first week of the regular season before a new contract was finalized, so we can only hope for a repeat of that happening right now.
Over the course of the preseason we have seen several bad calls and non-calls made by the replacement officials. Last Saturday night against the Buffalo Bills, the Pittsburgh Steelers were flagged for an illegal block in the back on a return when replay showed that it was actually a Bills player on the kicking team that pushed a Steeler player in the back. Luckily the officials huddled and ultimately picked up the flag, but this was just one instance of many that has occurred heading into the final week of preseason games.
The NFL Referees Association is probably sitting back and watching the replacements serve as their best bargaining chip right now and who knows what we will see in the opening week. Hopefully a bad call does not decide the outcome of the game and especially not against the Steelers.