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Replacement refs for Hall of Fame Game




The Hall of Fame game is the punching bag for labor strife.

Last season, the NFL Players Association and the league approved a collective bargaining agreement prior to, but still resulted in the cancellation of, the annual exhibition contest.

This year, the referees are locked out with no contract. As the league and the referee’s union have not reached a collective bargaining agreement, the officials remain locked out and will be replaced for the preseason opener, the Hall of Fame Game between the Cardinals and the Saints.

We have learned (first reported at ESPN’s NFC West blog) the following officials have been assigned to the game on Sunday. We do not have complete information on their prior experience, so please leave a note in the comments section if you recognize a name on this list. We will update this post as we receive new information.

2011 officiating experience
R 73 Craig Ochoa Arena Football League
U 68 Timothy Morris Pac-12 (BCS), likely fired by conference
HL  2 Kevin Akin Mid-America (Div. II); Indoor Football League
LJ 39 Esteban Garza (2010) American Southwest (Div. III)
SJ 111 Dwayne Strozier So. Cal. Football Assn. (junior college)
FJ 105 Rusty Spindel apparently retired from C-USA in 2004
BJ 126 Mark Wetzel So. Cal. Football Assn. (junior college)
  • Ochoa has eight years’ experience in BCS conferences, 16 years in Division III. 126 105
  • Morris has 16 years in the BCS. Fox Sports analyst Mike Pereira (also, consultant to the officiating department in the Pacific-12 Conference) stated that three unnamed Pac-12 officials were not rehired and were subsequently hired by the NFL as replacements.
  • Akin worked six years in Division II.
  • Garza worked one year in Division III. We can only find one game, however, from 2010.
  • Wetzel worked Division II for five years.
  • Spindel has 25 years prior experience in BCS (Division I) conferences. He officiated in the umpire position as early as 1992 in the Big East.
  • Strozier has worked Division III for 12 years. He was inducted in 2006 into the Greater Flint Afro-American Hall of Fame (Flint, Mich.) as a distinguished high school track athlete during the 1970s.

Check back on this post for updates.

Ben Austro is the editor and founder of Football Zebras and the author of So You Think You Know Football?: The Armchair Ref's Guide to the Official Rules (on sale now)

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