Rarely does anyone ask to know the name of the guy who made all the routine calls. Instead, it's guys like Jim Joyce (perfect game screw-up) and Don Denkinger (1985 World Series) whose names we will remember forever.
One of the goals of any official, referee, or umpire is to remain nameless. However for the current crop of NFL officials calling games on the field, it's not because of their reputation that they remain nameless, it's because these officials don't even have an NFL reputation yet.
Starting with last night's game, the NFL is currently being officiated by replacements. Thanks to a labor dispute between the league and officials' union, college crews will be pulling double-duty until further notice.
Perhaps you didn't notice during last night's preseason game thanks to a lack of critical moments, but don't give the grand audition a free pass. Preseason games are less about winning and more about player assessment anyways.
That's not to say that the replacement officials are less competent than their NFL regulars. However, teams and fans are used to games being called a certain way. While football is football, the college game isn't the pro game so differences are to be expected in how games are called.
If a deal isn't reached between the two sides before the start of the regular season there's no doubt that replacement officiating will be in the back of everyone's mind.
It will likely be at the front of all of the attention if an important call is blown in a critical moment. Even worse, what about if the NFL referees return mid-season -- the pre-season isn't just for the players after all.
Will the replacement officials make more calls to justify their role, or will they let more calls go in an attempt not to interfere? Will the flow of games slow down as officials get used to working NFL games? And most importantly, will replacement officials be able to get it right with the game on the line?
These questions and more will be lingering and keeping players, coaches, and fans on edge as the start of the season approaches.
What do you think? Will replacement referees hurt the NFL and play important roles in game outcomes?
Justin Mikels is a staff writer for Operation Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @long_snapper.