This is not good news. It's not terrible news, because it may just be a negotiating tactic, but it's certainly not good news. This is from the e-mail I got from the NFL this morning:
Negotiations with the NFL Referees Association on a new collective bargaining agreement remain unresolved and the previous CBA has expired. Therefore, in order to ensure that there is no disruption to NFL games this season we will proceed immediately with the hiring and training of replacement officials.
Scab officials? Yikes.
I make no bones about this, more than 50% of the games played in the NFL are decided by the calls of the referee. Whether that's a key Pass-Interference call, or a Holding call to bring back a big play, or a Roughing the QB call to give the offense another chance at scoring points....it doesn't matter. Most games are between two evenly matched teams and most of those games are decided by what the referees see and call.
Putting that type of responsibility in the hands of referees from, I can only assume, the college ranks seems risky at best and potentially disastrous. Here's to hoping that the NFL and it's refs come to an agreement sometime soon.