Report: Labor talks with NFL, game officials halted

Labor talk fueled with lots of rhetoric was all we heard at this time last year when the NFL and NFLPA began engaging in clandestine talks.

Labor talks again are an issue for the NFL and this time it involves the referees and officials. According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, talks between the league and the officials have broken off. The NFL has advised teams it will work to hire replacement officials.

The league and the officials had agreed to work with a federal mediator and apparently that did about as much good as it did last year when the league and players went down the same road. Could this be a negotiating ploy? No question. Could it actually happen? No question.

The NFL used replacement officials for Week 1 in 2001. That was before social media and the intense focus that will come in 2012 if the league begins the season with inexperienced officials and risks having regular-season games on the line with men in black and white uniforms that are rookies. That is the pressure the officials will attempt to use at the negotiating table. We’ll see what direction this heads.

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune