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Friday, Aug. 3, 2012

Goodell fine with replacement refs

AP

GREEN, Bay Wisconsin — With no end in sight to the labor dispute between the NFL and its officials, commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday that he is comfortable with the idea of using replacement officials in preseason games.

News photo
Up for grabs: Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy (left) and defensive back Tom Nelson vie for the ball at training camp on Wednesday in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. AP

Goodell said he doesn't think using officials with less experience will pose a safety risk to players.

"That's why we've been training them for the last two months and why they're on the field now, is to make sure they're prepared, they understand the rules," Goodell said during a visit to Green Bay's training camp.

Replacement officials were on the field during practice Wednesday and are expected to stay in Green Bay through Friday's "Family Night" scrimmage. The Hall of Fame Game between the Arizona Cardinals and New Orleans Saints is Sunday.

Members of the NFL Referees Association were locked out in June after talks broke down.

"We are in discussions with them," Goodell said. "We've had discussions recently. Hopefully we'll have more discussions with them in the near future. But as you can see, we're preparing for the season and we will have officials on the field. We hope that the officials from last season will be on the field again this year but to date, we haven't been able to get an agreement that makes sense for both parties."

Goodell said the main emphasis in negotiations from the league's perspective was to find ways to improve officiating.

"We proposed an idea where we could have another 21 officials so we could help train them and have a deeper pool of officials and be able to potentially move them in and out," Goodell said. "And that's something that we're discussing with the officials. But the whole issue is, how do we continue to improve the officials?"

The purpose for the proposed pool of additional officials hasn't been clearly defined, but it could become a way for the league to promote and demote officials based on their performance.

Goodell said the league also has offered officials a pay raise as part of negotiations.

"Of course, they're interested in compensation and benefits, we understand that," Goodell said. "We've made a proposal we think is fair, with an increase. It's five to 11 percent per official. We think we've been responsive on that, and hopefully we can get something done."



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