Scab officials are the stupidest idea since reviving J.R. Ewing.
The NFL is ready to ruin its product by not paying part-time game officials more money. Just shred whatever credibility remains after last year's offseason lockout. Remind people this is a business that really doesn't deserve fans' unwavering devotion.
The dirty secret is the NFL's popularity rose through gambling and is bolstered by fantasy league players. Who's going to bet real money if officials are replacements? What fan is going to endure his team's losing because of really bad calls by referees that shouldn't even be on the field.
How many coaches will be fined for complaining about a bad call by someone who should be officiating college games at best?
Bad officiating is already a problem despite instant replay. There are always going to be bad calls as long as humans make them. Even computers are wrong. It's part of the game and tolerable as long as the outcome isn't impacted.
But there's no excuse for the NFL opting to hire scab officials for the coming season instead of continuing talks with the NFL Referees Association. It's just a symbolic act of leverage.
Nobody believes scab officials will see more than two games at most before repeated bad calls force the NFL to cut a deal with the NFLRA. Most likely, there will be a deal before the Dallas-New York Giants national opener on Sept. 5.
There's also worry of increased injuries by players, especially offensive linemen who will not only hold more often but suffer payback hits from defensive players. Games could turn into after-whistle melees.
The NFL Players Association, which has its own problems despite signing a 10-year labor deal shortly before last season, wants the real officials. They even called them "first responders," which is insulting to the police, fire and emergency personnel who deserve the name. A first responder is someone who risks their life to help others, not control a game. The NFLPA blew its credibility on the entire issue on that alone, but players are right to want credible officials to protect them on the field.
The NFL won't even get good officials for replacements. Those on the cusp of reaching the NFL won't cross the picket line. They won't become scabs. This isn't about crossing a coal mine dispute to feed one's family. Officials aren't full-time employees so it's optional work.
No, the NFL will get those whose only chance at a pro career is being a scab. They'll be low-level college refs, maybe worse. Old-timers who can't keep up with the speed of the pro game.
The NFL is bluffing even if it's themselves. The game needs full-time officials, not scabs. This is a bad joke.