Last Updated:September 20 @ 08:20 am

AP source: 'serious' gaps divide NFL, officials

By Barry Willner

NEW YORK (AP) - The NFL and its locked-out officials met the last two days, but a person familiar with the negotiations said Friday the sides remain far apart and no further talks are scheduled.

The person said in an email to The Associated Press that there are "significant and serious economic gaps." The person requested anonymity in characterizing the negotiations because they are intended to remain private.

Michael Arnold, counsel and lead negotiator for NFL Referees Association, acknowledged the discussions, saying his group reached out to the league last week and the NFL agreed to meet. He said there may be additional talks, but it is "not appropriate" to comment on specific issues.

The NFL locked out the regular officials in June and has been using replacements as the season enters its third full weekend. Many players, coaches and fans have been upset with what they say is poor officiating. The NFL has warned teams that it won't tolerate confrontational behavior toward the new officials.

The NFL locked out the regular officials after their contract expired. Negotiations with the NFLRA broke down several times during the summer, including just before the season. This is the first time the league is using replacements since 2001.

The collection of small college officials working the games has drawn tough criticism from those on the field. Monday night's game between Atlanta and Denver underlined the matter, with Broncos coach John Fox and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio engaging in heated arguments with officials.

In response, the league, according to NFL.com, said Thursday night that senior NFL officials called owners, general managers and coaches from all 32 teams to tell them that respect for the game demands better conduct.

NFL executive vice president Ray Anderson noted "unacceptable behavior" and added "we're not going to tolerate it." He said flags, fines and suspensions are possible for coaches or players who cross the line.

"There's no doubt the integrity of the game has been compromised not having the regular officials out there," Giants linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka has said. "We've got to get that taken care of."

What the fans seem most annoyed with is the lack of pace to games, notably Monday night's win by the Falcons that dragged on past midnight. The NFL has said that it is trying to upgrade the officiating through training tapes, conference calls and meetings.

The league and the NFLRA, which covers more than 120 on-field officials, are at odds over salary, retirement benefits and operational issues. The NFL has said its offer includes annual pay increases that could earn an experienced official more than $200,000 annually by 2018. The union has disputed the value of the proposal, insisting it would ultimately reduce their compensation.

"We just all hope, and I'm speaking on behalf of all 31 other head coaches, we hope they get something done," Rams coach Jeff Fisher has said. "We're trusting that they will."

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4 Comments

  1. Mort_fComment by Mort_f
    September 22, 2012 @ 10:33 am

    Why is my ‘crying towel’ dry?

    Receivers that can’t catch, linemen that can’t block, coaches that can’t coach, etc, etc., etc. And all pocketing the largesse from taxpayer funded stadia replete with skyboxes for the elite politicos.

    Sorry if I have no sympathy for any of the performers, all of whom are paid many multiples of the majority of their fans, in this facet of the entertainment BUSINESS, with the emphasis on business.

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  2. Kathy BrauerComment by Kathy Brauer
    September 22, 2012 @ 2:10 pm

    Keeping the negotiations private is intended to minimize the posturing by both sides. Unless there is undue collusion or the evidence of illegal activities, it should remain that way. “The public’s right to know” sometimes should come *after* the fact in order that solutions can be reached in a timely, efficient manner.

    As for the “outrageous salaries” — if people don’t like the amount of money paid to the players, don’t go to the games, buy the merchandise, or support the sponsors. Of course, the reduction in local revenue from the stadia *may* in fact reduce local budgets — so pick your poison. Either way, why are we whining about it? Because, yet AGAIN, we are joining in the world-wide role of “victims” of “the rich” rather than taking responsibility for our own attitudes. I begin to think the world will end not in either fire or ice, but in one huge WHINE.

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  3. middlegroundComment by middleground
    September 22, 2012 @ 2:51 pm

    So the refs want a bigger piece of the pie. When the owners are billionaires no one complains if they don’t make money owning a team or worry that perhaps they are losing money. After all the owners are part of what President Obama calls the 1% who aren’t paying their fair share.

    Now some former players are claiming these same owners owe them compensation for injuries they may have suffered when playing professional football. Of course most players started playing contact sports in junior high and who knows when their injury occurred, but it is those hated billionaire owners who should pay for any and all injuries.

    What a marvelous new area for lawyers to exploit — sports injuries that show up later in life. Just imagine the possibilities of lawyers getting high schools, colleges, universities and pro teams at all levels to pay for physical problems of those who formerly played any type of contact sport. You know insurance companies will have to raise their rates and many schools will have to drop some if not all types of contact sport. I can see it now, assigned liability with every organization the athlete played for having to chip in a little or a lot of cash.

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    • pistol packing mamaComment by txgoatlady
      September 24, 2012 @ 9:56 am

      Rush suggested a few weeks ago that the next step for the nanny state will be to get rid of professional football because of the cumulative head trauma injuries. We’ll see. The big soft drink ban was adopted by NYC, after all. The government has got to protect us from our stupid selves and our destructive behavior. Unless of course it is government-protected destructive sexual behaviors. Those are off-limits.

      These young kids are pushed so hard that they already have a lot of injuries some even before they get to high school. It seems a bit silly to me to allow your child to destroy their body before they even finish high school. I also get annoyed by the emphasis of Texas schools on sports to the exclusion of academics. It doesn’t do these kids any good to get a college sports scholarship if their reading and math are so poor that they will never finish college.

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