|The NFL might be compelled to trust relatively inexperienced officials to get stuff like this right. (Getty Images)|
In early June, as the NFL was negotiating with the referees union attempting to iron out a deal to keep game officials working, the league's director of recruiting, Ron Baynes, sent out a memo to all scouts. It was basically a contingency letter just in case talks failed.
They did. Game officials are locked out but this memo, obtained by CBSSports.com, which appears in its entirety below, remains a remarkable document. It basically outlines what the NFL wants in its replacement refs. And what they want is scary.
The pertinent part is when Baynes tells scouts what kind of refs they should be trying to recruit.
"1. An Official who have recently retired from a successful career in College officiating and is still physically able to officiate at a high level of competency.
"2. Lower division college officials, professional league officials and semi-professional league officials whose window of opportunity for advancement has pretty much closed but who have the ability to work higher levels but just got overlooked."
This is amazing.
The NFL is going to trust its billion-dollar business to semi-pro refs and dudes who just got off the back nine?
More importantly, in this age of health and concussion concerns for the players, the NFL is going to entrust the health and safety of its players to "lower division college officials, professional league officials and semi-professional league officials whose window of opportunity for advancement has pretty much closed but who have the ability to work higher levels but just got overlooked."
This is almost like something from The Onion but it's not. This is a real memo.
Let's hope the NFL comes to its senses and settles this thing with the officials.
To: 2012 NFL Scouts
The NFLRA and the NFL are in negotiations for a new CBA for the coming years. As of this date they have not come to a satisfactory agreement. Both sides are still working very diligently in an effort to avoid an officiating work stoppage. Efforts are being made to avoid a repeat of the 2001 season but as of today neither side has been able to come to a satisfactory agreement. Negotiations are ongoing. The NFL has a responsibility to the game and its fans to make sure the 2012 season will go on as planned. Thus, a contingency officiating replacement plan is being initiated. This plan is a contingency plan only and hopefully all issues will be resolved before replacement action is taken.
As part of the contingency plan, I am asking you scouts to contact officials that you feel might be interested in working as a replacement officials should there be a strike or lockout and have them contact me for an application. Listed below are the group of officials we suggest targeting:
1. An Official who have recently retired from a successful career in College officiating and is still physically able to officiate at a high level of competency.
2. Lower division college officials, professional league officials and semi-professional league officials whose window of opportunity for advancement has pretty much closed but who have the ability to work higher levels but just got overlooked.
3. All applying officials should be in good health and look the part of a fit and capable official.
4. All applying officials should be in a position to give their full officiating attention to the NFL without conflict from other officiating commitments.
5. All applying officials should be coachable and be prepared to participate in comprehensive training program. The officials will be compensated for their training time.
6. All applying officials should be of impeccable character and able to pass an extensive background check as part of the acceptance to work.
7. All applying officials will be required to provide a statement from their personal physician certifying that the official is in good health and capable of handling the physically expectations that are inherent to their officiating responsibilities.
An interested official should email me at (address redacted) identify themselves as being an official that is interested in working for the NFL should there be a work stoppage. Please take note that at this time we are only gathering names of interested officials. Applying will not guarantee that an officials will be chosen nor does it bind the official to a absolute commitment to work. The application is to just express possible interest should there be a work stoppage. After we have accumulated our list of potential replacements, we will interview and investigate applicants and then select those that we feel will best meet our needs. As I sated earlier, negotiations are ongoing and should the two sides reach an agreement in the near future, there will be no need to hire additional officials. This is a contingency plan to make sure the NFL season will continue on schedule as planned.
Your job as scout is to get this information out to officials in your area and give them the opportunity to decide for themselves if they would like to make application. You are not being asked to persuade officials in any way to accept or not accept. Just provide the information to those that fall into the targeted group and let them decide for themselves.