Former vice president and senior director of NFL officiating Mike Pereira, said he has no horse in the race these days, but insists fans, coaches and players will want only the best game officials on the field and not the 113 men and women he considers inadequately prepared to call regular-season games.

"I feel bad for the replacement people," Pereira told WSCR-AM in Chicago on Tuesday. "They're so overwhelmed."

Pereira pointed to a series of blown calls, or erroneously executed calls, in Sunday's preseason opener between the Saints and Cardinals. In the final two minutes, when a defensive player was injured, a timeout should have been charged and the clock started at the placement of the ball.

"Instead, the Cardinals gained more of an opportunity to win the game," Pereira said of the gaffe.

One example of what the NFL game officials, locked out by the league and absent negotiations for the past two weeks, are asking for is the case of 10-year veteran referee Gene Steratore. Pereira described Steratore's pay of roughly $5,600 per game as a middle-of-the-road salary. The officials are asking for a raise of approximately eight percent -- the NFL is offering closer to 2 percent -- that would bump Steratore's per-game payment to $6,000.

Pereira, now a game and officiating analyst for FOX Sports, said the league and officials both need to give a bit to make a deal work as they did in 2001.

Without training from a crew of nine retired veterans who typically work with the regular officials in the offseason, including Jerry Markbreit, Pereira doesn't see the replacement officials as a reasonable alternative. He pointed out the typical five-year apprenticeship as a game official before fulltime refs can be chosen for the postseason and Super Bowl.

"It's just not going to work," he said.

-- The Sports Xchange

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