|It was not good news regarding referee negotiations. (Getty Images)|
It looks like the NFL is heading toward replacement officials after all. That's according to the L.A. Times' Sam Farmer, who reports that last-ditch negotiations between the NFL and the referees have failed.
On Saturday, CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora reported that the league is frustrated with the negotiating tactics of NFL Referees Association lawyer Michael Arnold -- who, according to sources, "has changed his figures on several occasions." La Canfora also reported that NFLRA negotiator Scott Green has been particularly "radical" in negotiations, even more so than Arnold.
As La Canfora reported Friday, the two sides tried another negotiation session because they "have been unable to bridge a gap on finances, the number of crews and other issues like duties beyond the game-day responsibilities."
Farmer also reports that no further talks have been scheduled.
Said the NFLRA in a statement: "We met with the NFL this morning and discussed various potential solutions to reach a new collective bargaining agreement. Unfortunately we were unable to reach any agreement.
"We are disappointed because it means that our members will not be back on the field
for Week 1 of the regular season due to the NFL's continuing lockout. We remain willing to negotiate with the NFL in order to reach a fair agreement. However, no additional meetings are scheduled at this time.”
CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman reported that commissioner Roger Goodell was the one to initiate the latest round of negotiations and that "the NFL was prepared to make certain economic improvements before [the] start of regular season." The NFLRA supposedly was set to agree to those parameters, but then backed away and reverted back to their pre-lockout stances.
"The officials apparently think we cannot play football without them," an NFL source told Freeman.
The NFL announced it would proceed with replacement officials.
Those replacements have gotten brutal reviews so far. Not only for the judgment calls but for procedural rulings and for, at times, not knowing the correct rules. In the fourth week of the preseason, one replacement crew had to review the review (!) of a play.
If the preseason is any indication, it's going to be a bumpy ride with the replacements. Players have referred to them as clueless and Titans defensive coordinator Jerry Gray, in the heat of the moment, referred to them as the Three Stooges (though surely, he couldn't have meant they were as disastrous as Curly Joe DeRita).
And, of course, you'll recall what retired official Jerry Markbreit said about those who are replacing his brethren.
"I watched highlights on the NFL Network last night,'' he recently told the Chicago Sun-Times. "I saw referees with their head down, their cap over their eyes making announcements. I watched their mechanics. Honest to God, it made me cry seeing it. This is the National Football League. …
"I know they're working their fannies off. But these people are not schooled in professional football. They don't know the rules. They can have supervisors on the sideline, they still can't officiate the game. The integrity of the game is everything.”
So, apparently, is money.
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