Replacement Refs Will Officiate First Week Of NFL Season

It could be an interesting Week 1. Due to an ongoing dispute between the NFL and the Referees Association the first week of the 2012-13 football season will be officiated by replacement refs.

The replacement refs worked the first few weeks of pre-season as the league worked to settle the dispute before the official start of the NFL season.

That, however, isn’t going to happen.

Ray Anderson, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, sent out a memo this morning saying that replacement refs would be used during the first week of the NFL season.

Anderson said:

“In light of the current state of negotiations, we will have replacement crews on the field when the regular season begins…. The replacements have undergone extensive training and evaluation, and have shown steady improvement during the preseason. We will continue the training with each crew and they will work as much of the regular season as necessary.”

Anderson said that the NFL will use an officiating supervisor who will watch over the game from the replay booth to make sure that the replacements make the right calls.

Anderson said:

“As part of our effort to support the replacement officials, we will employ procedures similar to those in effect in the postseason. We will have an officiating supervisor from our staff in the replay booth at each game whose job will be to help ensure correct penalty enforcement, administration of rules not involving fouls, operation of the game and play clocks, and game administration. The supervisor will be able to communicate directly with the alternate official on the sidelines. The supervisor will not be involved in either the instant replay system or any judgment made by the officials on the field. As in all games, the final decision will be made by the referee on the field and no decision will be revisited or changed once the ball has been snapped for the next play.”

The replacement refs made a few mistakes during the pre-season but players, coaches, and teams were able to laugh off the mistakes since the games didn’t count for anything. They aren’t going to be so forgiving during the regular season.

Drew Brees said last week:

“I would be concerned if it went into the regular season…. It’s just like on a team if you said ‘hey, we’re going to put five rookies in front of you and a bunch of first-year players catching the ball and running the ball. You just don’t have the same level of trust and confidence.”

Packers safety Charles Woodson also compared the replacement refs to a bunch of rookies. Woodson said:

“It’s almost like a young guy coming into the NFL. The game goes too fast for them… Now, could they go through a season and get better? Sure. But there’s going to be a lot of bad officiating going on until they catch up to the speed of the game.”

Do you think the replacement refs will have an affect on week 1?