Sports

Sep 4, 2012 12:31 PM by Lauren Molenburg

No talks between NFL, Union as season nears

NEW YORK (AP) -- Officially - at least in their comments - NFL players and coaches aren't concerning themselves with refereering.

The NFL and its locked-out officials weren't talking two days before the season begins, a clear indication replacements will be on the field for Wednesday night's opener.

Doesn't matter, according to many of the guys who call the plays or carry them out.

"We're going to play the games regardless," Chargers All-Pro safety Eric Weddle said Monday.

"Everyone makes mistakes. I make mistakes. It's just the way human nature is. You can't get hard on guys that are trying to do the best they can. You've just got to deal with it.

Both sides met for three days last week, but did not reach an agreement to end the three-month lockout. The replacement officials who worked the preseason games amid much criticism will handle the Cowboys at Giants opener and the other 15 games on the weekend.

The league and the NFL Referees Association, which covers more than 120 on-field officials, are at odds over salary, retirement benefits and operational issues. The NFL has said its offer includes annual pay increases that could earn an experienced official more than $200,000 annually by 2018. The NFLRA has disputed the value of the proposal, insisting it would ultimately reduce their compensation.

With the stalemate, the NFL will use replacements in the regular season for the first time since the opening week of 2001, days after the terrorist attacks.

Many of those replacements came from the highest levels of college football, something that has changed drastically this year. The current replacement crews are comprised of mainly of officials from the Arena League, and the NCAA Division II and III levels.

The league said it will handle the officiating assignments the same way it does in any other year, with the crew for Wednesday night's game not being announced in advance - even though there's increased interest in who works the game.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

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