Ray Anderson, the NFL's vice president of football operations, went straight to the point. He's one of the key people in the negotiations with locked out game officials. What he says matters.
"At this point, I would expect the replacement officials to start the regular season," Anderson told CBSSports.com.
Is Anderson bluffing? It's always possible but I've known Anderson for a long time. He's a good guy and straight shooter. I'm not so sure he's bluffing. At all.
This was one of the first on the record comments by a high-ranking league official about when regular officials might return. This is not great news.
Anderson said the only chance he could be wrong was if talks suddenly went "at warp speed" but as of now there are basically no negotiations.
He explained that if an agreement is reached a number of things would have to happen including a physical assessment of the officials, a medical one and background checks. Plus, there would need to be three to four days of additional training.
Anderson also stood by the quality of the replacements.
"Are they going to be Tom Brady? No," he said. "But they can be a Matt Hasselbeck."