NFL, referees fail to broker deal

The NFL Referees Association and the league have broken off talks after a third day of meetings Saturday failed to reach a resolution on a new labor deal.

"We are disappointed because it means that our members will not be back on the field for Week 1 of the regular season due to the NFL's continuing lockout," Mike Arnold, the lead negotiator for the referees, said in a statement. "We remain willing to negotiate with the NFL in order to reach a fair agreement.

"However, no additional meetings are scheduled at this time."

The NFL announced Wednesday that replacement officials would be on the field for the league's regular-season opener between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys and further stated Saturday it would be proceeding with the replacement crews.

Commissioner Roger Goodell was among the league officials involved in Saturday's session.

The NFLRA was locked out in early June and replacements have been used throughout the preseason with mixed results.

League executive Ray Anderson has said the sides remain considerably apart on economic issues, including salary and retirement benefits, and on operational issues.

Among the NFL's proposal is hiring seven full-time officials -- one per position of referee, umpire, line judge, side judge, back judge, field judge, head linesman -- who would train, scout, handle communications, safety issues and rules interpretations year-round.

Now, all NFL game officials are part-time employees, with outside jobs ranging from lawyers to teachers to business owners.

In response, the NFLRA has said it is not opposed to full-time officials "if they are fairly compensated."

In 2001, the NFL used replacements for the first week of the
regular season before a contract was finalized. The speed of the
game and the amount of time starters are on the field increase
exponentially for real games, making the replacements' task more

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.