For the second year in a row, there is a lockout involving the NFL. Luckily, this time the players aren't the ones being locked out. Rather, the league has locked out its officials after failing to agree on a new collective bargaining agreement with the NFL Referees Association. Already the public reaction has signaled that this could be another ugly labor dispute, and it could have an effect on games with the league planning to hire replacement officials.
"Negotiations with the NFL Referees Association on a new collective bargaining agreement remain unresolved and the previous CBA has expired," the league said in a statement. "Therefore, in order to ensure that there is no disruption to NFL games this season we will proceed immediately with the hiring and training of replacement officials."
Adam Schefter reports that the NFL is looking to hire officials from non-BCS college football conferences and possibly even the Arena Football League. Training will take place over the summer in preparation for preseason games in August and the regular season in September.
Personally, I have a feeling that this labor dispute will be resolved early enough so no replacement officials actually end up being needed. For now, though, the possibility does exist that a lot of new faces will be officiating games in 2012. On the one hand, I certainly wouldn't mind seeing a few select refs go away, but then again, imagine how bad the officiating could be with people completely new to the NFL. As Joel Thorman writes on SBNation.com, this has disaster written all over it.