Sports Talk

Bob McNair on replacement refs: “I can’t see any difference”

If the NFL’s regular officials won’t get back to work until the NFL owners agree to pay them more, then they may remain locked out for a long time.

That’s what Texans owner Bob McNair suggested when he, along with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, talked about the officials lockout on CNBC’s Squawk Box. McNair said he hasn’t noticed an increase in bad calls this preseason and doesn’t believe the replacement officials are any threat to player safety.

“We have complaints, it doesn’t matter who’s officiating,” McNair said. “And we look back at it as to those calls that we think were bad calls, and we don’t have any more now than we had before. Now, clearly the officials that we have now are not as good professionally as the ones we’ve had, otherwise we would have had the others all along. But in terms of the impact on the game, I’ve been watching it and frankly I can’t see any difference. We have the same situation — we have some calls we don’t like, we have some that should have been made that weren’t made, but we don’t have any more, and the players are just as well protected. So I don’t think that safety is an issue at all.”

Goodell added that when the NFL last used replacement officials, in 2001, they called fewer penalties and got good reviews from players, coaches and fans. Although Goodell and the owners are paying lip service to the belief that the locked-out officials are the best in the business, and that the NFL wants to have the best officials on the field, no one from the ownership side seems overly concerned about the consequences of the lockout.