It is almost certain that the NFL regular season will begin with replacement officials. The NFL has locked out the members of the NFL Referees Association in a contract dispute and has hired replacement officials to call the games until there’s a collective bargaining agreement. This week, NFLRA attorney, Mike Arnold, told Bob Glauber of Newsday that the NFL “predetermined” that there would be a lockout of its officials.
What is most disconcerting about the Newsday article is that Arnold alleges that the NFL is in no hurry to settle with the NFLRA.
Arnold said he does not believe the NFL is serious about negotiating soon. “They told us [last month] that if this was going to settle, it was going to be on their terms and they were not going to make any additional offers,” he said.
Arnold goes on to say that the members of the NFLRA are “strong and very united” and willing to stand together. Arnold predicts it could be Week 4 or Week 5 of the regular season before there is a CBA.
This week NFL commissioner Roger Goodell once again expressed confidence that the replacement officials are up to the task of officiating regular season games.
So, as the regular season approaches, the NFL and NFLRA are dug in and waiting for the first side to blink.
Let’s hope this is the darkest hour before the dawn.