Over the past several weeks, while the NFL has locked out its regular officials, we have gotten to know the NFL’s rag-tag group of replacement officials -- and it has been refreshing to learn that they are just like us. They root for their favorite teams. They play fantasy football. They can sometimes be camera shy. They have favorite colors. They are occasionally geographically challenged. And they enjoy pulling pranks on their friends.
At first their hijinks were kind of funny, but then they literally started wasting our time. And now that they are costing teams football games -- something I predicted would happen a month ago -- things have gotten so bad for those loveable replacement officials, the Lingerie Football League is distancing itself from them.
The LFL, which suspended its 2012 season in April so it could focus on growing its brand in 2013, released a statement from commissioner Mitchell Mortaza early Tuesday morning, less than an hour after the controversial finish to Monday night’s game between the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers. In the statement, he belatedly confirmed Mike Pereira’s claims that ex-LFL officials were hired by the NFL as replacement officials.
"Because of the LFL's perception it is that much more critical for us to hire officiating crews that are competent, not only for the credibility of our game but to keep our athletes safer,” Mortaza stated. “Due to several on-field incompetent officiating we chose to part ways with a couple crews which apparently are now officiating in the NFL. We have a lot of respect for our officials but we felt the officiating was not in line with our expectations. We have not made public comment to date because we felt it was not our place to do so. However in light of tonight's event, we felt it was only fair that NFL fans knew the truth as to who are officiating these games."
It's fair to question the LFL's credibility and its motivation to publicly comment on this matter, but it's a dagger to the NFL nonetheless.
As negotiations between the NFL and the real officials drag on, we will continue to learn more and more about these replacement officials. It has been an embarrassing scenario, no doubt.
But on a human level, you have to feel for this overmatched cast of characters that has now been thrust into the national spotlight. Hopefully there will be a resolution soon so the replacements can get back to simply controlling the fate of their fantasy teams.