Every year, Pittsburgh Steelers fans and even NFL players have been outspoken about the quality of officiating that takes place during every NFL game. In fact, many point to the need for full-time officials to improve the inconsistencies. Unfortunately, in 2012, the officiating could be even more of a story than usual.NFL Referees Association broke down after two mediations failed to work out a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA).
While both sides have voiced optimism that an agreement can be reached prior to the start of the season, players and fans have reason for concern, especially with the leagues new emphasis on player safety. This could be especially troubling for the Steelers and their potentially intimidating defense, as they often play with an edge that is already in the leagues and officials cross hairs.
This becomes an even more slippery slope when fans hear that the league will not even consider officials from mega-competitive BCS conferences in NCAA football to fill the void, since they are overseen by NFL officials. They will target retired college or lower level qualified football officials to fill in at the games highest level, something that should not resonate with any fan or player.
With the added responsibilities of player safety and an already fast game, is it honestly viable for an unseasoned group of officials learning the speed of the game for the first time to do anything other than call anything even remotely close to a foul. Yes, the veteran NFL officials miss calls, but they also tend to go flag happy at times with no happy medium.
If this does come to fruition, with the league and Commissioner Roger Goodell already facing litigation on many health or bounty related fronts, look for the hammer to fall on the field with these replacement referees, as the league will look to not only promote safety, but to dictate how the game is played at every point. Honestly, not a good outlook for fans, players or teams; here’s hoping that like 2001, an agreement is reached prior to the regular season.
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