The inevitable has now become reality: there will be replacement referees in the first week of the regular season.
The NFL has locked out its union officials since June 3 while they negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement with the NFL Referees Association. Both sides have not met to negotiate in over a month.
In order to keep the games as scheduled, the league has hired replacement referees from a pool of applicants that would not ordinarily be considered for advancement to the NFL.
NFL vice-president of operations Ray Anderson sent a memo to the teams detailing the logistics for the replacement officials work in games that count in the standings (as reported by Mike Freeman at CBS Sports):
In light of the current state of negotiations, we will have replacement crews on the field when the regular season begins. The replacements have undergone extensive training and evaluation, and have shown steady improvement during the preseason. We will continue the training with each crew and they will work as much of the regular season as necessary. The replacement officials are dedicated and enthusiastic, have worked very hard to improve, and have persevered despite the attacks on their qualifications and performance. We are all grateful for their service to the NFL.
As part of our effort to support the replacement officials, we will employ procedures similar to those in effect in the postseason. We will have an officiating supervisor from our staff in the replay booth at each game whose job will be to help ensure correct penalty enforcement, administration of rules not involving fouls, operation of the game and play clocks, and game administration. The supervisor will be able to communicate directly with the alternate official on the sidelines. The supervisor will not be involved in either the instant replay system or any judgment made by the officials on the field. As in all games, the final decision will be made by the referee on the field and no decision will be revisited or changed once the ball has been snapped for the next play.