August 25, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; A NFL replacement official signals a penalty against the New Orleans Saints defense during the first half of a preseason game against the Houston Texans at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints defeated the Texans 34-27. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

How NFL Replacement Officials will hurt the Integrity of the game

When the NFL locked out the players last year, it seemed as though there was an actual war going on in the world involving these two parties. It was headlined in many newspapers for continuous weeks, ESPN had non-stop live coverage of exactly who was winning the fight, and there were major supporters for both the players and owners.

Eventually, it was believed the two sides would come to an agreement with only a week of the pre-season being lost. After this, everybody thought there would be ‘labor peace’ for 10 years at least and labor negotiations could be a thing of the past.

Unfortunately, this ended up not being the case and only one year after the heated 2011 NFL lockout, another lockout is under way…with the NFL officials.

This ‘war’ is a lot different than last time, however, with a lot less media coverage and not a lot of negotiating. Most will assume that this lockout will pass and everything will be back to normal – just like last year. Many will also assume that if the lockout is carried out for an extensive period, no games will be lost and there really is nothing to be worried about.

In reality, games will be lost and it will not be because players are not playing but because replacement officials will not be officiating to the level of NFL standards. One horrible call at the end of the game can decide the outcome. When this occurs – and it will occur – the media will jump in and fans will be outraged and the 2011 NFL lockout coverage will be back for round two.

In addition to the winning and losing aspect of the game, there is another major problem involving this particular lockout – safety. Last year, the NFL fought hard to initiate protective protocols o prevent injuries, specifically limiting concussions to NFL players.

Many of these proposals went through and many safety changes have been occurring in the NFL for the past couple of years. Unfortunately, with replacement officials managing games, many plays will go uncalled. Penalties such as roughing the passer and unnecessary roughness will be missed and will signal to the players that some of these hits are OK – actually they are not.

Of course, much non-safety related penalties will be missed as well. Mainly this will be because these replacement officials range from being Division II, III, NAIA, and even some non-collegiate leagues where many of their normal penalties are different in the NFL.

Common sense would call for replacement officials from Division I football because they are sometimes officiating games nearly as big as NFL games. This cannot occur, however, because the NFL already uses many Division I officials on their regular crews and the NCAA does not allow the NFL to ‘double-dip’ from the rest of the Division I officials.

Though this lockout may not be getting as much publicity as is should, severe consequences will occur if this lockout lingers into the regular season. Injuries, missed-calls, and games having different outcomes all will jeopardize the integrity of the NFL.

This can be related to the cold war from the 1980s. Though tension is really high between the two parties, nothing has happened. If the two sides cannot work out an agreement soon enough, unfortunate consequences will occur…and it will not be pretty.

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