Due to a labor dispute between the NFL and the NFL Referees Association, the 2012 NFL season began with replacement officials working the games. These replacement officials consisted of high school or college officials from lower divisions. Some were from professional leagues such as the Arena Football League and the Lingerie Football League. Unlike the previous lockout in 2001, none of the replacements were Division I referees since the league wanted to protect them from union backlash and to let them continue working their scheduled games during the concurrent college football season. In addition, many of the top Division I conferences barred their officials from becoming replacements since they employed current and former NFL referees as officiating supervisors.
Replacements were used in the first three weeks of the season, during which blown calls led to criticism and upset players and coaches. Controversy over a game-winning touchdown on the final play of a nationally televised Monday Night Football game in week 3 spurred an agreement 48 hours later between the NFL and its officials. In an open letter to fans, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell told fans "you deserve better" than games being officiated by replacements. He regretted an agreement not being reached sooner and the "unfortunate distractions to the game."
105 Rusty Spindel – 25 years prior experience in BCS (Division I) conferences. He officiated in the umpire position as early as 1992 in the Big East. Apparently retired from C-USA in 2004. Longtime official in the Louisiana High School Athletic Association, working several state championship games.
122 George Trout – As recently as last year, he was working as an official in the collegiate I-AA Northeast Football Conference.
84 Derrick Rhone-Dunn – Has worked Arena Football games. Also has officiated high profile collegiate games, including the 2007 Sugar Bowl
32 Michael Fischer
43 Dave Hale
48 Greg Hay
56 Bobby Jackson – Worked Referee three games of 2012 NFL preseason. Referee and Back Judge in FCS (formerly Div I-AA) SWAC since 2008; 2000–2007 Div II SIAC as Back Judge, including NCAA Div II playoffs and HBCU Classics; 15 yrs high school career in GA (AAFOA) including 4 State Championships.
61 Mark Kelsay
66 Mike Malito
74 Larry Orrico
98 Aaron Schrein – a high school teacher who has worked as a referee in the Patriot League
94 Peter Shafer
117 Bill Theodore
Mark Wetzel – So. Cal. Football Association (Junior College). Worked Division II for 5 years.
^King, Peter (July 30, 2012). "A League At The Crossroads". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved August 13, 2012. "NFL refs now serve as supervisors of officials for five major conferences—the Big East, Big 12, Pac-12, Big Ten and Conference USA—and they won't allow officials from those conferences to work NFL games. The source said that, in solidarity with the NFL zebras, supervisors in other FBS conferences won't allow their officials to work NFL games either"