Football Zebras.com exclusive
The United Football League has entered its fourth season this week, but it had to leave five of their officials behind.
The NFL hired five officials from the UFL to officiate during the lockout with the NFL Referees Association. Now that the lockout is over, those officials could not return, even though none had resigned from the UFL.
“None of our officials from last season have been terminated because they accepted temporary officiating positions with the NFL,” said Larry Upson, UFL vice-president of officiating operations.
However, Upson had to get his officiating staff ready for his season. “With the majority of our games scheduled for Wednesday and Friday nights, it allows us a much larger and competitive pool of college officiating applicants from which to choose.”
“I don’t plan on having any of our former officials who were replacement officials work in our league this season,” Upson said. “Our games have started and the staff is firmly in place.”
The UFL has run a small parallel league, competing this year in Las Vegas; Omaha; Sacramento, Cal.; and Virginia Beach, Va. Their games are carried on the CBS Sports Network cable channel.
Upson has replacement official experience. In 2001, as a supervisor in the officiating department, he was pressed into service when the NFLRA went on strike. He said he wasn’t keeping up with the issues in the 2012 labor impasse, but “from my 2001 experience, I would say [this was] a very tough situation for both sides.”
The five officials that were listed on the 2012 replacement roster and the 2011 UFL roster included:
Upson was pleased to tell us that they had broken “the grass ceiling” by having female officials three years before the NFL hired Shannon Eastin as a replacement official. “Terri Valenti has been with us for all four seasons.”
By not taking a replacement official position (we don’t know if she was ever considered), Valenti has not scuttled her opportunity to enter the big league.