NFL To Use Replacement Referees During Sunday's Pro Football HOF Game
NFL Exec VP/Football Operations Ray Anderson said that negotiations with referees “were ongoing but that the league has replacement officials ready to go" for Sunday’s Pro Football HOF game. Anderson on an earlier NFL Network broadcast said, “The officials we are going to put on the field have substantial experience. All of whom have some college experience. We're very comfortable that they will be very credible and do a very, very fine job for us.” Anderson said the league “rigorously evaluated our 136 officials and we feel very good about them going out and doing a credible job, and we have spent a lot of time focusing and training them over the course of the last two months, specifically with regard to the player safety rules being vigorous about those enforcements and we feel very confident that they will do a good job” (“NFL Total Access,” NFL Network, 8/1). ESPN’s Chris Mortensen said, “They’re tried to jumpstart talks in the past week. They haven’t gone anywhere. … It may be Week Three of the regular season before we settle this thing" (NFL Live," ESPN, 8/1).
ROGER THAT: ESPN.com’s Mike Sando noted NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell yesterday “gave the only response he could logically provide” when asked about the possibility of using replacement refs during the preseason. He said that there is “no heightened risk to players.” Goodell said safety is "such a focus for us" that replacement crews have been "training on that basis." Sando wrote “precedent suggests the NFL and its officials will settle their dispute right around Week 1, and this impasse will be forgotten, just like the others” (ESPN.com, 8/1). In Green Bay, Weston Hodkiewicz notes Goodell “defended the league’s current offer, which he said includes raises of 5 percent to 11 percent per official.” The NFL dispatched its partial crew of officials Wednesday at Nitschke Field to "work a pair of practices prior to the Packers’ annual Family Night scrimmage, which takes place Friday at Lambeau Field.” Goodell said, “Hopefully we’ll have more discussions with them in the near future. But as you can see, we're preparing for the season and we will have officials on the field” (GREEN BAY PRESS GAZETTE, 8/2). Goodell said of negotiations, "Clearly, there are some economic differences.” Goodell: “There’s some changes that we would like to make to make sure that we have the best officials and we’re not going to agree to anything until we get those and the economic issues resolved (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 8/1).
STARS & STRIPES: In Milwaukee, Tom Silverstein notes players “seem to have a degree of solidarity with the league's officials.” But if you ask some of the players “if they're concerned about a bunch of indoor league and Division II college officials working their games when the season starts, they seem unfazed.” Packers C Jeff Saturday said, "These guys have already started being trained. It's not like these guys are off the street and haven't reffed any games before. They have professional or college experience" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 8/2).