NFL Officials May Learn a Hard Lesson: No One Is Irreplaceable

Don WrightContributor ISeptember 12, 2012

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 10:  Replacement referee Jim Core questions a call during the season opening game between San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on September 10, 2012 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

First off, I have nothing against any NFL officials, be they the replacements or the regulars who are not working right now.  That changes temporarily when Wes Welker gets held and doesn't get a flag, but for the most part, I don't spend much time thinking about officials. 

I don't imagine you do either, until they miss a call for your team. Missed calls have always happened and always will.  It doesn't matter to me who misses them.

The NFL officials look to be close to learning a lesson that anyone who works learns eventually—no one is irreplaceable. 

It might be difficult for a while, but not impossible.  In your working life, you know someone at some point who was let go or replaced when you and others thought there was no chance of it happening. It can be for many reasons: poor performance, cost savings, illness or injury—and sometimes people do it to themselves.

Right now NFL officials are doing it to themselves by acting as though they are irreplaceable.  They are not.  They are not superhuman, they don't have some mysterious skill that others lack. They are not the only living human beings who can do their job. 

What these officials have forgotten or choose to ignore is the fact that they learned their craft.  It wasn't bestowed by a magical football god, it was learned through experience. 

The fact that they learned to officiate games at the highest level proves the ability of others to do the same.  It's not as though they can sit out with total confidence that no one else alive can learn the same skill.

This is not to accuse them of arrogance, but of being human.  Everyone likes to feel like they are the best at what they do. If you've ever watched a colleague make a mistake and thought to yourself that you would have never done the same, you know what I mean. It's just human nature. 

Couple that with having authority over million dollar athletes while commanding universal respect in front of millions of TV viewers, and you have a job that would make anyone feel they are of the elite.


That's where their problem lies.

Maybe they are of the elite at their profession, but that doesn't mean the next guy can't achieve the same. It's a hard lesson to learn but everyone does eventually.  The lucky learn it by seeing it happen to others.

I know I saw a few bad calls this past weekend—we all did.  We all saw bad calls last year as well. Any job performed by human beings is subject to human fallibility.  Everyone makes mistakes. The NFL officials were counting on their replacements to make many. 

The problem is they didn't make that many more than we saw at any other time.  The replacements weren't perfect, but they weren't terrible either.  I feel the majority did well in their first games that meant something.

When most people aren't happy with the terms of their employment, they either move on or they deal with it.  There aren't too many other choices.

If you went to your employer and told them you weren't happy with your pay and benefits and that you weren't going to come to work until you got what you wanted, what would happen?  That's right, you and your ultimatum would be on the sidewalk with your stapler and coffee cup in a cardboard box.

What the NFL officials are likely to learn is that no matter how poor you feel your compensation to be, there is always someone else who will be happy with it. There may be a learning curve or growing pains, but the bottom line is this: No one is irreplaceable.