Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE
By Travis Duncan
Packer Forum writer
Pete Morelli is the high school Principal at St. Mary's High School in Stockton, California.
Carl Cheffers works in the car battery division of Johnson Controls Inc.
Jeff Tripplette was a former Vice President at Duke Energy, specializing in risk management.
Bill Leavy served as a San Jose Police and Firefighter for 27 years before he retired in 1996.
Walt Anderson is a retired dentist from Sugarland, Texas.
When not fine tuning his massive biceps, Ed Hochuli is a lawyer with the firm Jones, Skelton & Hochuli in Phoenix.
Not that anyone was happy with these guys when they were officiating but you don't know what you have until it's gone.
It was Leavy in last season's Packers-Giants playoff game who overturned a fumble call on Greg Jennings and ruled it down by contact. That was a favor for the Packers which ultimately didn't make a difference in the game. Leavy was however, mercilessly criticized by the FOX TV crew and others.
Call it a job hazard. Criticism of the referees is among the sacred duties of sports fandom.
So criticism of replacement refs was to be expected, but most would agree the replacement referees are noticeably worst then the regulars.
The lead negotiator for the NFL ref union, Mike Arnold, told ESPN, "It's not our job to judge the replacements, because their performance speaks for itself."
Is the performance of the replacements through three preseason games prompting the NFL to budge in secret negotiations with the referees union? We don't know. Not a word has been leaked to the general public or media one way or another at this point.
Commissioner Roger Goodell did say last week concerning the replacement referees, "We think they’ll do a very credible job."
The NFL is paying replacement referees $2,000 per game as opposed the $8,000 the regulars make, according to the LA Times.
Logically as the boos amplify you would think the NFL will give in meet the demands of the referees and move forward.
But the NFL has leverage in this scenario for a lot of different reasons. The number one reason though is that the games will go on without the regular officials and that's all that matters.
When a sport reaches a certain level or popularity and pedigree (and $9 billion in revenue), conversation about it only serves its interest, good or bad.
The 16-game regular season could realistically be refereed by the inexperienced with a flurry of horrible non-calls, miss calls and game costing calls and we'll all still watch and be fans. The leverage in that sense is with the NFL.
However, two other groups have a different perspective. The players and the owners. First and foremost the owners have a financial perspective. And the formula is usually pretty simple-winning teams generate more revenue. Tally enough game-changing miscues and before you know it every owner will be affected and on the horn with Goodell or the powers that be trying to get the regular guys like Huchuli and Morelli away from their desks and onto the field.
Secondly, the chorus of boos is starting to amplify among NFL players. According to the LA Times the NFL reminded coaches and players not to criticize replacement refs, but that didn't stop the Packers very own Charles Woodson who had this to say to USA TODAY Sports:
"They haven't been very good. That's the honest opinion. Before preseason started, I think you're optimistic. But it's almost like a young guy coming into the NFL. The game goes too fast for them.
"There will be some things you normally wouldn't get away with. It's not that you'd be trying to get away with them, but you will because the official didn't see it or he didn't know to make the call. We need the (regular officials) back."
Vikings punter Chris Kluwe tweeted, "The NFL really needs to kiss and make up with the refs. These replacements are horrible. Frankly, it’s kind of embarrassing."
Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator Jerry Gray allegedly called NFL officials "The Three Stooges" during a game last Thursday night.
Of course the league does care about the quality of the officiating and that is also at the root of dispute with the referees union.
The NFL would like its referees to give up their day jobs and focus on officiating full-time. Given the plethora of their real world talent and other business pursuits, you could see why that might become a problem.
Another issue in the dispute is the NFL's plan to add more crews and officials, meaning that certain crews and officials could be replaced, for poor performance.
Goodell emphasized last week the NFL is prepared to start the regular season with replacement officials.
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