The replacement officials who have worked NFL games during the preseason while the league and the referees and engaged in a labor dispute have often resembled a Chris Berman catchphrase. They have been "Rumblin', Bumblin', Stumblin" their way through games, often looking like what they are. Guys who are trying hard, but are not ready for the NFL.
Now that the NFL has notified teams that replacement officials will open the season, the situation is really no longer a laughing matter. Games are often won and lost in the NFL by the tiniest of margins, and even the best officials (Ed Hochuli) have screwed up calls, and changed the outcome of games.
It really is amazing that the richest and most popular sports league in the world, one which these days talks constantly about player safety, is opening the season with referees who are well-intentioned, but not qualified to be there.
"We are committing to the replacement officials for as long as we need them to perform their services," Anderson said. "It's a week-by-week basis, but they are prepared to go the distance if required."
The NFL Referees Association released its own statement on Wednesday:
"It is unfortunate because the Referees want to get back on the field. Our members have been engaged in extensive preparations and are ready to go.
"If the NFL is serious about negotiating, we are ready, but we can't negotiate with ourselves."
New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz expressed concern about the officiating earlier in the preseason. After Wednesday night's preseason finale against the New England Patriots, Cruz tried to find something nice to say.
"I’ve seen some improvement throughout the weeks. They’re putting in the effort, which is all we can ask for. And they’re putting the time in to getting better and understanding that they’re being in these games. So they have to understand the calling and how the NFL game works. I saw some improvement for sure."
Giants coach Tom Coughlin, who probably knows the intricacies of the NFL rulebook better than many of the officials, tried to be diplomatic on Wednesday night when asked if he was concerned about the replacement officials.
"I don’t have any control over any of that, so for me to say there is or there isn’t, you just have to do the very best you can with it," Coughlin said. "That’s not my decision. We just hope that these officials know the rules, know how to enforce them and can keep the game under control and keep order and hopefully they’ll be able to do that."
Yes, hopefully they will. Most likely, however, we will see lots of "Rumblin, Bumblin, Stumblin." And quite possibly the outcome of some games changed.