Former NFL Referee Live On ESPN, CNN From News 2, Talks About Rules, Replacements, and Responsibility

11:24 PM, Sep 25, 2012   |    comments
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Greensboro, NC--  A former NFL ref talks about the chaos surrounding the NFL replacement referees.

Gerry Austin is a former NFL referee. He worked with the NFL for 27 years and officiated three Super Bowl games. Now he lives in Summerfield, NC and works as an analyst for ESPN.

While the NFL referees are locked out because of pensions and salaries, the NFL hired replacement referees to officiate until the issue is resolved.

However, the replacement referees don't have any experience refereeing NFL games. Without experience, they're making mistakes and getting vilified by players, coaches and fans.

Gerry Austin thought the end of Monday night's Packers vs. Seahawks game was "bizarre and unbelievable" but he doesn't point the finger at the replacement refs.

"They're conscientious in what they're doing or they wouldn't be there. They're working hard. They're studying film. They don't have experience," said Austin.

Basically, each crew is a crew of seven rookies. When the NFL has its regular officials on the field, they never put more than one rookie in a crew, giving the rookie six veterans to lean on.

Gerry remembers the transition he went through in his early years.

"I saw some plays happen my first game and I thought, what is going on here? I've never seen anything like this. And I came out of the ACC... I worked some big bowl games. I worked the Orange Bowl," Austin told News 2's Liz Crawford.

Austin said officiating the Orange Bowl doesn't come close to a pro game.

"The current officials are in an arena they have never been in before. The expectation for them is tremendous. Everyone's expecting them to get every call right. They're not prepared for this."

Along with being a fulltime NFL referee, Austin spent most of his career as an associate superintendent for Guilford County Schools.

If you watched ESPN or CNN on Tuesday afternoon, you might have noticed something familiar.

Gerry Austin was in the News 2 Information Center conducting live shots for the two networks!

He was talking about the NFL referee lockout and last night's end-of-game controversy in the Packers-Seahawks matchup on ESPN.

WFMY News 2

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