Remembering the Replacement Refs

It’s a professional referee’s job to ensure that games run smoothly, so it’s perhaps no surprise that the absence of refs from the 2012 season’s NFL games — thanks to contract disputes between the league and the referees’ union — had led to almost unprecedented chaos, remembering the replacement refs.

After three weeks of controversial calls, which culminated in a game-changing decision in a matchup between the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers, the NFL began to cave in to the demands on the officials.

This video presents a great chance to look back at how it began. What is the dispute about? Who should be blamed?

What were the NFL and the referees fighting about?
There were several areas of disagreement, but the biggest sticking point was money. The referees wanted to stick with a pension plan that was originally negotiated in 2006; the NFL wanted to implement a 401(k) plan instead. The NFL’s refusal to budge had puzzled many analysts because the cost differential between the pension and the 401(k) was relatively small: Roughly 0.33 percent of the league’s annual $10 billion revenue, or $100,000 per team per season — a figure some commentators had called the equivalent of a “rounding error” for the NFL.

Who did the NFL hire to replace the locked-out referees?
A group of less experienced officials culled from smaller markets like the Arena Football League, Divisions II and III of the NCAA, and — in one particularly damning case — the Lingerie Football League (LFL), a far-from-professional league in which women play the game in bras and panties. Fans and commentators had expressed both frustration with this solution and sympathy for the stand-in refs’ inexperience.

What do the NFL players think?
The vast majority sided with the referees. Many players have spoken of their exasperation in post-game interviews, or taken to Twitter, voicing complaints like “I thought I was watching Punk’d” and calling the use of replacements “a slap in the face.”

This video was produced by Set The Edge. Set The Edge is a YouTube channel dedicated to telling interesting tales of NFL players and their career fortunes. Head on over to the channel, leave a like and subscribe.

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Living and breathing the Denver Broncos, Boise State and the Colorado Buffs. Jordan is a former Sports Entrepreneur and content creator. In the editorial world, Jordan has won plaudits from Superbowl winner Byron Chamberlain & Bryan Harsin. In recent years Jordan has worked with the likes of Real Sport, FNV, Business Insider and Forbes.