Let's Hear it for the NFL Replacement Refs! No Seriously…

STACK lists three solid reasons to give the NFL replacement refs some respect.

Replacement Refs

Bear with us here, but STACK's about to give props to…the NFL's replacement referees. Seriously.

Last night marked the official start of the 2012 NFL season and, as predicted, it kicked off with replacement refs.

We know giving credit to these guys isn't exactly a popular position. Other media outlets have spent the past several weeks bashing them and poking fun at their poor decisions, struggles over basic penalties and lack of experience. But here are three reasons why you should give the NFL replacement crews a little respect.

Please note: STACK is not taking a stand for or against the referee lockout. We're just giving a little credit where credit is due.

They're Giving Us Football

Last year's player lockout gave us enough of a scare; we don't really want to imagine our lives without football. We're so used to blaming referees for every bad thing that happens to our team that we forget how integral they are to the game. No referees risking nasty collisions in the middle of the field means no games. Which leads us to our next point...

They Stepped Up When Many Would Not 

The NFL locked out 120 of the nation's best football referees. With the usual suspects gone, someone had to step up. And if you think these guys are unpopular in the media, can you imagine their standing in the referees union?  Anyone who hopes one day to call pro games and become part of the NFLRA is not going to blow their chance by becoming a "scab."

They're Learning

Although the replacement refs have taken a beating from the media this pre-season for their shaky voices, missed calls and silly mistakes, they are getting better. By all accounts, they were actually pretty solid during last night's game. Just as athletes need time to adjust to the next level, the replacement refs will improve as they get more NFL experience.

No one can predict when the referee lockout will end, but as long as the replacement refs step up week after week, we're happy to have football back in our lives. Welcome back NFL.

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock