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With regular season looming, critics continue to call out replacement officials

By Ryan Wilson | CBSSports.com
Saints interim coach Joe Vitt: not all that pumped by the replacement officials. And he's not alone. (US Presswire)

If it seems like former VP of officials Mike Pereira and Vikings punter Chris Kluwe are frequently blasting the replacement officials, it's because they are. The former spoke of the integrity of the game even before the replacements took their unintentional comedy routine into the preseason. And the latter used his Internet megaphone to offer a frank and thorough assessment after witnessing it firsthand.

Well, with the 2012 NFL regular season upon us and the regular officials still locked out, the replacements will again be one of the primary storylines -- and most likely, for all the wrong reasons. With that in mind, Pereira and Kluwe got in some parting shots ahead of Wednesday night's Cowboys-Giants get-together.

With schools back in session, Pereira broke out the metaphorical red pen on the replacements.

"People have asked me to grade them because that's what I used to do when I worked for the league," Pereira said during an appearance on ESPN (via PFT.com). "For the level that these people are working at, I think they've done a pretty good job. I think they've worked within their capabilities. For Division II or III people, I think the job they've done would be like a C-plus.

"I would say this, though: If the regular guys are on the field and they perform like this, they get an F. They have done a decent job for their capabilities. Is it NFL, the level we should expect in the NFL? No, I really don't think it is. I think it's not going to resolve itself for a couple weeks, but I think we do deserve a bit better product than we've had on the field."

Kluwe agrees, vehemently. We know this because he used more than 800 words articulating his position in a note to Deadspin's Tommy Craggs.

"The replacement refs are bad," he said. "There's no way around it. None! Whether it's the pressure of live television on the sport's largest stage, or just an inability to do the job, these guys are making football increasingly painful to watch as a player, and I'm certain it's just as frustrating for the fans. It's like watching a Lamborghini roll around on eight-inch spare tires. Not good."

There's more, of course.

The (constant officials' conferences after every thrown flag) aren't the worst of it, because after they've finished rewriting War and Peace, you get to find out what the ruling is. And boy, there have been some doozies. I get that it's not easy to see everything that's going on, but we've gone past the line of "Oh, hey, that's kind of a bad call" and moved on to "I don't ... what ... even ... that's not [epic facepalm]."

Kluwe's last point can't be stressed enough. Not only are the officials missing calls, the ones they do enforce are inevitably botched by the poor soul with the microphone. Never have so many people felt so sorry for a ref. But watching this is many times worse than, oh, I don't know, this, this and even this.

Still not convinced? How about this from Sports Illustrated's Peter King:

"I cannot say which game this story happened in, but I can tell you it did happen. Final preseason game for two teams. Official calls defensive pass-interference in front of the penalized team's bench. Head coach lambastes the official. Official picks up the flag, tells the coach he's not going to make the call. Coach is stunned. Imagine what will happen when something's actually at stake."

Fun starts now.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and like us on Facebook. You can follow Ryan Wilson on Twitter here: @ryanwilson_07.

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