Barring some kind of unforeseen intervention, it looks like despite a preseason of memorable slipups that to this point even their predecessors in the referees union hadn't committed, the NFL is going to move forward with their plan to have replacement officials begin the regular season.
Some have surmised (such as Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio) that the referees' union is trying to take advantage of the generally sloppy preseason by the replacements to coerce the NFL into giving them an even stronger deal, even though we know quite clearly that Ed Hochuli, Jeff Triplette and Co. aren't exactly the squeakiest-clean referee units around themselves - mistakes are mistakes, but fewer mistakes are better. But is that really the sharpest tack to take?
The thing is, we've talked about the referee debacle before, but the replacements can call NFL games. They may not be able to call them seamlessly, or well, and they may make significantly more mistakes, but they'll probably be out there and the NFL will probably be okay with it while the refs association tries to make something of their "stronger position".
What will change that is if their mistakes lead to a more dangerous game and someone getting injured, particularly a quarterback or wide receiver - you know, the league's sacred cows. If a ref doesn't throw a flag on a late hit or subtle head hit on Tom Brady (okay, this would never happen, but bear with me), what's to say the next time that defensive end is in the pocket, he won't decide to really ring Brady's bell on a hard hit. That might get some conversations started at the league offices.
To this point, we haven't seen this happen, and I wouldn't say they've been shy about throwing the flags, but it only takes one.
What do you think it will take for the NFL to bring the regular officials back to work?