The question of which side in the officiating lockout is responsible for the failure to negotiate is almost as difficult as determining which member of an openly affectionate couple is actually Shmoopie.
The NFL has said that replacement officials will be used for Week One of the regular season, and the locked-out officials have said that it’s not their fault that the two sides aren’t talking.
“It now appears the NFL is willing to forego any attempt to reach a deal in the last seven days before opening night,” the NFL Referees Association said in a statement issued this afternoon. The NFLRA also accused the NFL of continuing to assume a “take it or leave it” posture.
“It is unfortunate because the Referees want to get back on the field,” the NFLRA said. “Our members have been engaged in extensive preparations and are ready to go. If the NFL is serious about negotiating, we are ready, but we can’t negotiate with ourselves.”
In a Tuesday appearance on WSCR’s McNeil and Speigel Show, NFL V.P. of football operations Ray Anderson, said of the locked-out officials: “They have not reached out to us recently and I can tell you I don’t believe we’ve reached out to them so right now we’re at impasse and we are focused on getting our officials ready for Week One, our current officials and they will be out there continuing to improve and do a good job, a very credible job in our opinion.”
The problem continues to be that this dispute lacks any external person with the ability to force the two sides back to the table. So neither side has any obligation to talk until the other side wants to. Also, neither side has any duty to abandon its current position. The NFL has every right to dig in and wait for the officials to blink, and the officials have every right to dig in and wait for the officials to blink.
And if the NFL is prepared to do everything in its power to ensure that the games will be properly officiated, that’s fine with us. As long as the games are properly officiated.
But come Monday, September 10, saying “the locked-out officials screw up, too” won’t cut it, absent hard proof from the NFL that the inevitable errors committed by the replacements in Week One of the 2012 season match the number of errors made by the locked-out officials in Week One of the 2011 season.