NFL And NFL Referee Association Deal Remains Elusive

August 26 2012; Denver, CO, USA; NFL replacement referee Bruce Hermansen (49) before the start of a preseason game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE

The concern that replacement officials will be officiating regular season games is growing. NFL Players Association DeMaurice Smith even hinted during an interview with Jim Trotter at Sports Illustrated that he's not ruling out a strike until the referee situation is resolved, citing player safety with inexperienced crews.

In America it is the employer's obligation to provide as safe a working environment as possible. 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.

It's probably just idle suggestion, considering that the likelihood NFL players would refuse a paycheck for an organization that didn't lift a finger for them borders on preposterous.

Published reports are suggesting that the NFL and NFL Referees Association are separated by what amounts to $100,000 to $115,000 broken down per team.

The NFL, with Commissioner Roger Goodell saying that replacement officials are doing a "very credible job", are efforting public statements perhaps to install some confidence in those crews.

"We will not come out and say they are without their warts, but we will say that we’ve seen improvement every week," NFL V.P. of football operations Greg Anderson told the Times. "At the end of it, we are very confident that this group of current officials will be credible."

Awesome.

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