- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Calvin Pace isn't happy about the prospect of playing a game Sunday officiated by replacements. The Jets' veteran linebacker called it "a shame," saying it's unfair to the players and fans. He also questioned whether the NFL really is concerned with player safety.
"Hopefully, everything gets handled in a timely manner where you can get the big boys back out there," Pace told ESPNNewYork.com on Monday. "It'll be a shame to see people without the required experience.
"The pressure to get calls right is enormous," Pace continued. "I wonder how you're going to feel when you have Rex Ryan and Bill Belichick yelling at you. How will that affect you? You've got guys who worked 15-plus years to get to this level. Now you're going to take a guy from nowhere and put him here? It's really unfair to us and it's unfair to the people who pay top dollar for tickets. I mean, what can you do? Hopefully, you get a game that's so out of hand that a wrong call isn't going to affect the outcome."
Pace said the league's claim that player safety is its No. 1 priority "doesn't make any sense because you don't even have guys who are Division I or Division II refs. You've got high school and the lingerie league ... It's talking out of the side of your neck when you're talking about safety, and you don't have the right people out there."
Brandon Moore, a member of the NFLPA executive committee, said you'd be naive to think that the quality of the officiating won't suffer with replacements. He said the replacements didn't have "command" of the games in the preseason.
"It's safety, it's the rules, it's managing the game, understanding the flow of the game -- all those things that come with experience," Moore told ESPNNewYork.com. "It's like putting a rookie out there instead of a guy with 10 years experience. There's going to be a difference. You'd be naive not to think that's how things work, especially in this game."
Moore also wondered about the safety issue.
"I think the normal refs, their job on Sundays, especially with concussions, is a lot more than making a holding call or things like that," he said. "They were the eyes, (they were) suspicious for concussions or things that jumped out to them, understanding legal hits or things that are dangerous. Those guys were experienced. They were schooled on what it looks like at full speed.
"I think (safety) could be somewhat compromised with replacement refs. The normal refs had a handle on those situations. They were the best at what they do. Whenever you take a step down, there's going to be some differences."
Moore also is a realist.
"We'd like to have the normal guys out there, but I understand from my experience, when the NFL is ready to make a deal, they'll make a deal -- when it's the right deal for them," he said, alluding to the acrimony during last year's lockout.