Longtime NFL referee Jerry Markbreit says replacement officials will compromise the NFL this season if a labor agreement isn’t reached.
The NFL has moved to hire replacement officials and with training camps opening next week there is no sign of progress with the regular officials, who have been locked out since June 3.
“You have to realize that there is no game if the competitive nature of this game isn’t controlled,” Markbreit said this morning during a visit on the Danny Mac Show on WSCR-670 AM in Chicago. “The NFL officials, the best in the land, are the ones that control this game. When you put replacements in there, you are compromising the nature of the game.
“That’s exactly what the league is planning right now. They’ve hired 120 replacement officials. None of them from Division I colleges. The colleges and conferences will not allow their officials to work for the National Football League.”
Markbreit, who worked in four Super Bowls when he was still active, disputes the notion that NFL officials work part time for the league. He pointed out that the top salaries for NFL officials is less than $200,000 per year – half of what their counterparts in other sports can earn.
“(They) call is a part-time job,” Markbreit said. “It takes over your life. It is the most important job you have. It’s not just on Sunday. All year.”
Markbreit says NFL officials work year-round to remain sharp in their field.
We’ll see what direction this heads. The NFL could open itself up to serious criticism if regular-season games are played with inexperienced officials that do not come from the top college ranks, which is where the league typically recruits new officials.
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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune