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N.J. State Senator Wants Law to Ban Replacement Refs

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By Andrew Lu on September 26, 2012 10:21 AM

New Jersey State Senate President Steve Sweeney wants to introduce a law that would ban replacement referees from being used in professional sporting events in his state.

Many observers had anticipated that it would take political pressure for the NFL and the referees union to come to an agreement.

And while there is no team in the NFL that is labeled as "New Jersey," both the New York Giants and the New York Jets would be impacted by the law, as they both play at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., reports Politico.

The New Jersey lawmaker cites player safety as the chief reason for the ban on replacement refs. The non-union referees are missing many calls, and defensive players are taking many liberties that the locked-out referees would typically have caught. So far, however, there has been no direct link between an injury and a blown call.

Sen. Steve Sweeney, a Democrat and a Green Bay Packers fan, makes the comparison between the NFL refs and construction supervisors. The politician says that under no circumstances would unqualified replacement supervisors be allowed to direct a dangerous construction site. And he says that it shouldn't be any different when the job site is a playing field, reports Politico.

While Sweeney is the first politician to propose a law to fix the problem, other notable politicians including President Barack Obama and Wisconsin's famously anti-union governor Scott Walker have already called for the return of the NFL's regular officials, reports Politico.

Despite the political pressure, lawmakers have no way to directly influence the contract negotiations between the referees and the NFL. If the New Jersey law is passed, it's hard to imagine the NFL cancelling games played in New Jersey.

In fact, if games are indeed canceled because of the law, Sweeney could end up being the most unpopular pol in New Jersey. Then again, it's likely the NFL referee lockout will be resolved long before Sweeney's proposed law makes its way through the legislative process.

So in all likelihood, talk of a replacement referee ban in New Jersey will probably be just that -- talk.

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