Aug 24, 2012; Cleveland, OH, USA; Replacement referees Bob Lawing (left) and Boris Cheek (41) have a laugh in the third quarter during a preseason game with the Philadelphia Eagles and the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-US PRESSWIRE
With the NFL season now just over a week away, we're seriously close to seeing the year begin with replacement referees. The preseason has been filled with one hilarious example after the other of the job the replacements have been doing (hint, click the words!).
However, while they're funny now, they probably won't be when the games count and the calls could be going against your team.
But why have things been so bad? Surely, there are more than just the handful of guys who have already refereed NFL games capable of doing the job. There are tons of perfectly capable referees overseeing major college football games after all. The pressure of the NFL wouldn't be too big for them. But as the NY Times reports, those aren't the guys the NFL are getting.
For a number of reasons, high-level college officials are reluctant to moonlight in the N.F.L. as replacements. They do not want to appear disloyal to their college conference supervisors - some of whom are also regular N.F.L. officials - or jeopardize their current positions with little chance of remaining in the pros after the labor issue is settled.
So who did the NFL find to do the job?
In addition to Craig Ochoa, the referee who used to work in the Lingerie Football League (in which models play in underwear) as well as in college leagues, officials include Jim Winterberg, who last season worked Football Championship Subdivision college games like Wagner versus Central Connecticut State, which was played in front of a crowd of 2,357. Others, like Michael Malito, who worked a game between the Giants and the Jacksonville Jaguars on Aug. 10, had never officiated above the Division III college level.
The article points out that the last time the NFL used replacement referees, it lasted one week into the 2001 season. Lets hope this time doesn't last much longer... Because lingerie football to the NFL is a leap no one should be making.