The NFL will open the regular season next week with replacement officials and said it was prepared to use them “as much … as necessary” after that.
Replacements will be on the field beginning Wednesday, when the Dallas Cowboys visit the New York Giants in the season opener, league executive Ray Anderson told the 32 teams in a memo. Negotiations are at a standstill between the NFL and the officials’ union.
The NFL Referees Association was locked out in early June, and talks on a new collective bargaining agreement have gone nowhere. Replacements have been used throughout the preseason, with mixed results.
Anderson, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, told the clubs in a memo Wednesday that training with each crew of replacement officials will continue.
“We are not surprised, based on Ray Anderson’s statements … that the NFL was not going to reach out to us,” NFLRA spokesman Michael Arnold said. “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 days before opening night.”
The NFL Players Association expressed disappointment about the decision to use replacements.
In 2001, the NFL used replacements for the first week of the regular season before a contract was finalized.
Lawrence Tynes kicked a 32-yard field goal with 1:03 to play as the Giants defeated New England, 6-3. The Giants played the majority of their starters, including quarterback Eli Manning, a little more than a quarter, while the Patriots rested almost all of their starters. … New Redskins kicker Billy Cundiff made three of four field goal attempts — and was booed by the home fans for the one he missed — in a 30-3 victory over the Buccaneers. … Orie Lemon returned an interception 26 yards for a touchdown, and No. 3 running back Phillip Tanner had a 1-yard score as the Cowboys routed the Dolphins, 30-13.