Officials paint a different picture of negotiations with NFL

As with all negotiations, there are two sides to the ongoing situation between the NFL and the officials.

The NFL announced it would begin the process of hiring replacement officials today. The officials say the league “never intended to work toward a fair agreement.”

While the league said earlier today it “made a proposal that includes substantial increases in compensation for all game officials,” the officials are painting a much different picture, saying the NFL terminated negotiations after only two sessions with the federal mediator.

“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,” said Mike Arnold, the NFLRA lead negotiator, in a statement. “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.”

Per Arnold, no additional negotiating sessions are planned right now.

“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,” Arnold said. “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.”

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

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