Replacement Refs Causing Problems

Flag at Lambeau (Jeff Hanisch/USP)

The NFL has asked the trainers — all former officials with 20-plus years of experience — to turn in their computers. Meanwhile, one of the replacement referees is Shannon Eastin, who would be the first female on-field game official in NFL history.

The labor dispute involving NFL officials has led to two other stories, the Los Angeles Times reported.

One is the fact that referee trainers who refused to work with the replacement officials have been asked to turn in their computers, making them assume they have been fired.

The other is the possibility that the NFL might have its first female on-field official.

With NFL officials locked out, the NFL has been trying to prepare replacement referees in the event a settlement cannot be reached. The league has hired replacement officials to work the exhibition season and possibly the regular season.

However, nine former officials refused to train the replacements, who were in Dallas on Friday for their first clinic. The NFL instructed the nine to turn in their computers, preventing them access to the NFL's computer system, according to the Times report.

"We feel that we're fired," Jerry Markbreit, who worked four Super Bowls and now trains officials, told the Times. "They haven't formally notified us, but it sure feels like we're fired."

The other eight former officials asked to return their computers were Red Cashion, Ron Botchan, Bill Schmitz, Ben Montgomery, Jim Quirk, Sid Semon, Tom Fincken and Dean Look. They are not currently members of the union.

"They wanted us to train the replacements, which we would absolutely not do," Markbreit said. "We were all officials for 20-plus years. . . . How could we face our people? There wasn't a question about us doing this. We knew this was coming. It's very discouraging for [the league] to have put us in this kind of situation."

One of the replacement referees is Shannon Eastin, who has been a referee in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and other leagues. If she is used in an NFL game it would be the first time a woman works as an on-field game official on an NFL game. Recommended Stories

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