Replacement ref who signaled ‘touchdown’ for Seahawks not ready to officiate at Division I level

Brian McIntyre

If the National Football League was hoping that the furor over the controversial finish to the Seattle Seahawks' 14-12 win over the Green Bay Packers would die down after 24 hours, it received some bad news on Tuesday.

According to Jim Corbett of USA Today Sports, Lance Easley, the side judge who signaled touchdown by Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate on what appeared to be an interception by Packers safety M.D. Jennings, was not deemed good enough to become an official at the Division I college level by Karl Richins of the Stars and Stripes Academy for Football Officials in Salt Lake City, Utah.

"I got to know Lance at a June academy I worked at in Reno and when he came to my academy in July," Richins said. "He's a very polite, good Christian gentleman, a good father to his son, Daniel, who was at my academy as well.

"But was Lance ready to work at the NFL level? Absolutely not."

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According to his since-deleted LinkedIn profile, Easley works as the vice president of Small Business Banking for Bank of America in Santa Maria, Calif. Prior to becoming a replacement official in the National Football League, Easley's experience came from officiating football games at the JUCO level in Northern and Southern California.

According to Larry Brown Sports, Easley also spent time on Tuesday in a Frenso, Calif., club with a cute Packers fan. No word on whether he's a Packer Backer on his Facebook page.

Considering the enormous difference between officiating games at the JUCO level and officiating an NFL game in front of millions of viewers on "Monday Night Football," it's hard to not sympathize with Easley, who, like most of the replacement officials, is surely a good person, but is just not qualified enough to work at an elite level in this field.

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Because Easley had attended his academy, Richins, who declined to become a replacement official in the previous work stoppage in 2001, is taking some heat.

"I'm getting e-mails saying, 'Boy, you must be proud,'" Richins said. "This is not what we intended for our officiating students to do. We train officials to work at the Division I level.

"At no time do we say, 'We can train you for the NFL.' After three days at our academy, Lance was determined by our staff not to be ready for Division I officiating."

Even in the unlikely event that the NFL and NFLRA make progress in their talks towards ending this lockout, replacement officials, including Easley, will be working yet another NFL game this weekend.

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