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NFLPA head chastises league for referee lockout

The SportsXchange

NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith is angered by the league's lockout of officials.

In a recent interview with, Smith cited safety concerns, claiming that replacement refs have created a more dangerous playing field.

"In America it is the employer's obligation to provide as safe a working environment as possible," Smith told "We believe that if the National Football League fails in that obligation, we reserve the right to seek any relief that we believe is appropriate. The NFL has chosen to prevent the very officials that they have trained, championed and cultivated for decades to be on the field to protect players and -- by their own admission -- further our goal of enhanced safety. That is absurd on its face."

Smith blamed the stalled talks with the officials on the league, saying that the NFL has placed money ahead of player safety.

"There are really three fundamental facts that are inescapable," Smith said. "One, the players and the league have made tremendous strides in trying to make the game safer over the last three years. The second fact is, at the players' urging, the National Football League last year gave the referees more power to spot and deal with a concussed or injured player. The third inescapable fact is, over the last 20 years the league has done everything to maintain an experienced referee corps."

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