Commissioner Roger Goodell may want to renegotiate his latest contract.
His job has become yet more complicated, with the breakdown in negotiations between the league and the NFL Referees Association. And despite that fact that the NFLRA previously had been conciliatory in its public comments, lead negotiator Mike Arnold has, yes, thrown a yellow flag in the NFL’s direction.
In a statement issued Monday afternoon, Arnold claims that the league “never intended to work toward a fair agreement,” abandoning the federal mediation process after only two sessions.
Arnold claims that the league sent letters to potential replacements “before we even finished our negotiating session with the Federal Mediator.”
He also says that the league’s negotiators “took fewer than five minutes to review the NFLRA’s offer,” and that the offer rejected by the league “requested increases smaller than those the League agreed to in 2006.”
“There are no additional negotiating sessions currently scheduled,” Arnold says. “However, our organization’s professional referees will continue preparing for the 2012 NFL season to the best of their abilities, despite the NFL’s refusal to provide them with vital training and educational materials.
“It is unfortunate that as referees’ responsibilities are expanded that the NFL would jeopardize player health and safety and the integrity of the game by seeking amateur, under qualified referees to administer professional games.”
Plenty of fans would take issue with that final point, given the ongoing criticism of the performance of game officials. But the reality is that the NFL already hires the best of the best. If the league uses replacement officials, the games will be officiated by something less than that.
Regardless of who’s at fault, it’s unacceptable to have anything other than the best officials working NFL games.