With their regular referees at odds with them, the National Football League will be trotting out replacement officials this preseason. The scabs will remain in place until a new labor agreement can be worked out.
It sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
Unlike the lockout last year, the NFL isn’t coming to a screeching halt. Instead, the league is pressing on with what many feel is the second-best option.
Among those replacement officials is 42-year-old Shannon Eastin who will become the first woman in history to officiate a NFL preseason game Thursday night.
Eastin’s presence on the field will only add to what is already a heavily scrutinized and tense situation.
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio is among those who are concerned not just about Eastin, but about the impact the entire replacement officiating corps will have on the game.
“I don’t have a problem with a female referee,” Florio told 106.7 The Fan’s LaVar Arrington and Chad Dukes. “My problem is she’s not among the best of the best.”
This was not a sexist statement. In fact, it has little to do with Eastin at all.
Although she has 17 years of experience, the vast majority of the games she’s officiated were high school contests. She also has four years of Division I-AA experience.
The NCAA has barred its Division I referees from doing double duty on Sundays, leaving the NFL to go further down the referee food chain.
“If we assume that the NFL has hired — as their regular officials — the best of the best that is available, then we should have a problem with this because we’re not getting the best of the best,” Florio elaborated, casting a blanket statement over all the replacements.
The NCAA’s decision is an about-face from 11 years ago when the elite officials in the college level were allowed to serve as scabs in the NFL.