[Editor's note: The NFL and the NFL Referees Association have broken off talks aimed at working out a new contract. The NFLRA has issued a statement in response to the league's action. The full statement from lead negotiator Mike Arnold appears below.]
After only two sessions with a Federal Mediator, the NFL today terminated negotiations and announced the recruitment of amateur referees as replacements.
We learned that they sent out letters to potential replacements on Saturday and Sunday before we even finished our negotiating session with the Federal Mediator.
Additionally, the NFL’s negotiators took fewer than five minutes to review the NFLRA’s offer, which requested increases smaller than those the League agreed to in 2006, before walking away from the bargaining table.
It is now clear the League never intended to work toward a fair agreement, even through mediation.
There are no additional negotiating sessions currently scheduled. 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.