Roger Goodell involved in ref talks

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was personally involved Sunday when the league negotiators met with their counterparts from the NFL Referees Association, according to sources familiar with the talks.

As previously reported by Sports Illustrated, the negotiations that occurred Sunday in New York were done with the participation of a federal mediator. Goodell also participated in negotiations last Tuesday and Wednesday, sources said.

Goodell joined the league's lead negotiators, Bob Batterman and Jeff Pash, who met with the NFLRA's lead negotiators, Scott Green and Mike Arnold, for several hours Sunday without reaching an agreement on a new CBA for locked-out officials.

While no new face-to-face negotiations were scheduled because of "significant differences," both sides were expected to maintain communication, still hopeful of narrowing the gap, sources said.

The NFL locked out the officials in June after their contract expired. The league has been using replacement officials, and through three weeks of the regular season there has been much criticism over the way some games are being handled.

In an interview with ESPN Radio's "Scott Van Pelt Show" on Monday, Saints quarterback Drew Brees said he doesn't blame the replacement referees for the mistakes they are making but the situation has become an embarrassment to the NFL.

"It's not their fault. You know, they're just not prepared to be in this situation," Brees said. "The game's so fast, the level that all of them were at, and now are at, it just it doesn't even compare. I think it's getting to a point where it's pretty horrendous and it's an embarrassment to the league, the way it's being conducted."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.