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Replacement officials to be used Week One

Pro Football Weekly
NFL names Carl Johnson first full-time on-field official
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NFL names Carl Johnson first full-time on-field official

Updated 5:47 p.m. ET, Wednesday, Aug. 29

The league told teams to expect replacement referees for the start of the regular season.

In a memo sent to the teams on Wednesday, one week before the regular season begins, NFL executive VP of football operations Ray Anderson said negotiations between the NFL and the NFL Referees Association remain “deadlocked.”

The officials have been locked out since June and replacement refs have been utilized in preseason games.

In the memo, obtained by CBS Sports’ Mike Freeman, the league states: “As part of our effort to support the replacement officials, we will employ procedures similar to those in effect in the postseason. We will have an officiating supervisor from our staff in the replay booth at each game whose job will be to help ensure correct penalty enforcement, administration of rules not involving fouls, operation of the game and play clocks and game administration. The supervisor will be able to communicate directly with the alternate official on the sidelines. The supervisor will not be involved in either the instant replay system or any judgment made by the officials on the field.”

Anderson also wrote in the memo that the NFLRA “seeks both to retain the current defined benefit pension plan for the current staff for at least another 5-6 years and to increase the amount of the defined benefit. We have proposed to freeze the defined benefit plan (preserving all vested benefits for all officials) and replace it with a defined contribution/401(k) arrangement — the same arrangement that is in place for all other league employees and which 13 clubs have adopted.”

The memo says that the league will continue training each replacement crew and that the replacement officials “have persevered despite the attacks on their qualifications and performance. We are all grateful to their service to the NFL.”

The NFLRA released the following response:

"We are not surprised based on Ray Anderson’s statements yesterday that the NFL was not going to reach out to us. However, this is consistent with the NFL’s negotiating strategy which has been “take it or leave it” and lock them out. It now appears the NFL is willing to forego any attempt to reach a deal in the last seven (7) days before opening night.

"It is unfortunate because the Referees want to get back on the field. Our members have been engaged in extensive preparations and are ready to go.

"If the NFL is serious about negotiating, we are ready, but we can’t negotiate with ourselves."

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello tweeted the following: "On the NFLRA, we are prepared to resume negotiations at any time. NFLRA talks to the media a lot more than it talks to us. ... If NFLRA wants to talk, we are available. We have a track record of success when it comes to negotiating major agreements."

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