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NFL will go with replacement refs in Week 1

Bad idea.

NFL officials have been locked out since early June.

In a memo sent to teams, obtained by USA TODAY Sports, NFL executive vice president Ray Anderson told clubs talks remained deadlocked, with the league remaining in contact with federal mediators.

Anderson cited issues that include:

•Pay increase rates.

•The league’s desire to replace the pension benefit with a defined contribution/401(k) plan.

•Disagreement over the total number of officials and the evaluation process.

“We’re no closer to a deal…and the opening game is right around the corner,” New York Giants co-owner John Mara wrote in an e-mail to USA TODAY Sports, “so the league had no choice.”

The league most certainly does have a choice. They are choosing to try to do to the refs what they couldn’t quite do to the players, and they’re doing it to a group that is paid a lot less and has a lot less power. In doing so, they’re demonstrating the same lack of concern for the players that they were showing last year during that lockout.

In addition to questions of whether replacements can handle the speed of the NFL game, The NFL Players Association maintains that player safety is compromised.

“That’s the primary concern,” NFLPA spokesman George Atallah said, mindful that NFL efforts to improve safety last year included charging that officials serve as first responders in monitoring whether players are suffering from head injuries.

Atallah said the players union has reserved the right to take action against the league, and is mulling options while maintaining close contact with NFLRA.

I don’t know what they can do, but I hope they do something. We all deserve better than this.

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