It’s all fine and good that the NFL and players union were able to come to an agreement last season in enough time to save football and keep America’s most watched sport in households all over the country.
And while it’s true that the players drive the action, I truly believe we take for granted the presence of football icons such as Ed Hochuli, Jerome Boger, and Mike Carey.
That’s why this current labor situation between the NFL and its officials is so troublesome. If I can’t see Carey triumphantly point to wind the chains and if I can’t see Hochuli flex his 61-year-old guns, frankly, the game just won’t be the same.
After two mediation sessions between the league and officials went sour, it appears optimism surrounding a new deal has all but faded.
The league now plans to hire and begin training new officials for the upcoming season in preparations for the increasingly realistic event that the two sides can’t hammer out a new deal before September.
“Our goal is to maintain the highest quality of officiating for our teams, players, and fans, including proper enforcement of the playing rules and efficient management of our games,” the league said via a statement.
The NFL’s plan is to hire arena league and non-BCS officials to take over. But referees counsel sees some drawbacks in that plan.
“It is unfortunate that as referees’ responsibilities are expanded that the NFL would jeopardize player health and safety and the integrity of the game by seeking amateur, under-qualified referees to administer professional games,” Arnold said.
I’m not going to lose sleep over this either way, but it would be nice to see the two sides hammer this out, if for no other reason than that I’ll miss those wrinkly guns of Mr. Hochuli.