Amani Toomer, Vinny Testaverde question NFL's use of replacement officials

Replacement officials take the field at the start

Replacement officials take the field at the start of an NFL preseason game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Tennessee Titans. (Aug. 11, 2012) (Credit: AP)

Former NFL players Amani Toomer and Vinny Testaverde expressed concern Thursday about the league's lockout of its officials.

The NFL played its first round of preseason games with replacement officials brought up from the college and high school ranks. Toomer believes the league is contradicting itself by claiming a commitment to player safety while putting inexperienced officials on the field.

"You've got the league telling the players to try to change the culture and make it a safer game, but the people who are actually on the ground floor implementing the rules that the league wants to change, they're not making it seem it's that important to them to get them on the field," Toomer said during a promotional event at the MetLife building in Manhattan on Thursday. "They can talk about player safety all they want, but when it comes down to practice, they're not following through."

The former Giants receiver also questioned the credentials of the replacement officials and the league's decision to employ them.

"The caliber of referees they're getting, which is small college and glorified high school guys, it really calls to wonder what they're really thinking," Toomer said.

Though several current NFL players have spoken out against the replacement officials since last week's preseason games, Testaverde said that once the regular season starts, the players will have to adapt to whichever officials are on the field.

"The players understand that, 'Hey, I can't sit out here complaining about the calls, just go out there and play football," the former Jets quarterback said. "And after a week or so, you're going to notice, 'Hey, this referee likes to call holding, this referee likes to call pass interference. We better start paying attention to that and stop doing those things.' "

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