The NFL regular season kicks off this week with officials whose only experience in the league came during the four exhibition games they worked last month.
The league and its regular officials are at odds over compensation. Eleventh hour talks between the NFL and the NFL Referees Association stalled over the weekend, cementing the replacement officials’ place on the field for now.
So how long will the replacements be in place?
Mike Pereira, current rules analyst for FOX Sports and former vice president of officiating for the NFL, told LaVar Arrington and Chad Dukes it could be at least three or four weeks.
“Doesn’t seem to be a great sense of urgency at this point to get the thing settled, it seems like the league feels that this current group is credible and willing to take the business risk to get the deal they want, Pereira said. “We’ll see which side begins to cave first, and a lot of it is how the replacement officials perform in the coming weeks.”
The replacements routinely missed calls in the preseason, prompting coaches, analysts and fans to question whether the integrity of the game was in jeopardy.
Upon reviewing a play in Washington, one official trotted onto the field and promptly announced that he was going to ‘take another look’ at it.
The replacements have been officiating games at levels much lower than the NFL, even as low as high school. There’s a big jump in game speed between college and the NFL. And while they’ve gotten a taste of the increased speed over the past month, there is much more to come.
“They have seen glimpses of the speed and intensity when the starters were in the game,” Pereira says, “but they haven’t seen it for 60 minutes. It’s so much different.”