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NFL Cardinals and Saints players claim that replacement officials working the Pro Football HOF Game on Sunday “made so many errors, players from both sidelines began openly mocking them,” according to Mike Freeman of CBSSPORTS.com. But fans “didn't see much about this” on TV, nor did they “hear about it.” The players said that the mistakes “were numerous, despite not being discussed much or shown on the broadcast." The players also said that some of the officials “began arguing amongst themselves vocally in front of the players.” Freeman asked, “Do regular officials make these kinds of mistakes? Of course. But this goes to the fact that replacements refs are afraid to make calls. This is going to be interesting to watch if these mistakes continue” (CBSSPORTS.com, 8/6). PRO FOOTBALL TALK’s Mike Florio noted the NFL Referees Association yesterday “sent out a list of the errors made by the replacement officials” in Sunday night’s HOF game. But the NFL “doesn’t seem to be swayed by the gesture.” NFL Senior VP/PR Greg Aiello in an e-mail said, “There are officiating errors in every game. No one is perfect” (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 8/6). SI.com’s Peter King wrote, “I keep saying this is a recipe for disaster, asking Arena League officials, small-college (and lower) and ex-major-college officials to work the real games.” Fans would “figure the league would want its best crew on the first nationally televised game of the summer, so the performance of this crew seemed a bad harbinger.” Replacement official Craig Ochoa “got the coin flip wrong.” After saying the Saints won the toss and deferred, he got on his microphone and said, "Correction, Arizona won the toss.” King: “Yikes” (SI.com, 8/6). CBS' Jim Rome said on the refs getting the coin toss wrong, “These guys are just lucky that (Saints coach) Joe Vitt didn’t become the first coach ever to toss a challenge flag before the game even started. He should have” (“Rome,” CBS Sports Network, 8/6).
NOT A BIG DEAL: In Detroit, Carlos Monarrez notes replacement refs have “officiated Lions practices, and most players have said they haven't noticed much of a difference.” Lions C Dominic Raiola said, "I think they've been fine. ... I think they've been doing a good job" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 8/7). ESPN's Adam Schefter reported people around the league "believe the NFL is fully prepared to use replacement officials for the first couple of weeks of the preseason … before we really sit down and get serious about a new deal at that point in time between the two sides” (“NFL 32,” ESPN2, 8/6).
LADY AT THE LINE: The AP reported college ref Shannon Eastin “will become the first female to officiate an NFL game when she works as a line judge” for the Packers-Chargers preseason game Thursday night. Eastin has “worked in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference" and comes with "16 years of experience” (AP, 8/6). ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert wrote this is “an important moment, and Eastin's assignment will generate relevant discussion on a number of levels.” Seifert: “Hopefully there were no barriers for qualified women to reach the top of the football officiating ladder, but if there were, you would hope that Eastin's accomplishment would negate them.” There is no “list of every replacement candidate, but reportedly, most of them have come from the Arena Football League and lower-level college conferences.” Their performance “will provide leverage to one of the sides in this contract dispute” (ESPN.com, 8/6).