As we all know the NFL is having a labor dispute with its officials. In this case, like in any other business, the dispute has fueled some bad blood, and the talk of crossing the picket line. Would you take the moment of a lifetime to officiate an NFL game even if you knew you weren’t qualified for the job?
I had a discussion with fellow officials, some college, some high school, and some semi-pro, the other night and the feelings were mixed. Some said it would be a “Once in a lifetime” opportunity and they would jump at the chance. Others said if they weren’t picked on merit and knew they wouldn’t be staying after the dispute was over, that they would pass.
The NFL DIDN’T pick the top college officials from the power conferences, or the top 70 or so names on their list. Why? Because they know they are going to settle this one way or the other. The top officials wouldn’t want to walk away from their jobs, cross a picket line, just to be told in a few weeks “Thanks, we’ll call you when we need you again” The NFL instead went to the next level down. They went to division 2 and 3 conferences, and offered those folks a huge (comparatively) pay day for a few weeks of work, and a chance to do an NFL game.
This brought up an interesting comment by former NFL Referee Jerry Markbreit
“The officiating world is its own little world, and if everybody respected officiating, they would not take that position, and be a replacement, from somebody who has earned the right to be in the top league in the world,” Markbreit said. “These guys are high school, junior college, small Division I and II colleges. I’m sure it was a great thrill for them to be offered the opportunity. But were I in that position I would never do that. Because replacing somebody is the worst thing you can do.”
Words of wisdom from a 23 year NFL veteran official. I think it’s a great opportunity to experience the life for a few weeks, and maybe get enough exposure to move up the ranks, but if it comes with a tag of “Replacement Ref” for the rest of your career, is it worth it?