With no end in sight to the labor dispute between the NFL and its officials, Commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday in Green Bay, Wisc., that he is comfortable with the idea of using replacement officials in preseason games.
Goodell said he doesn’t think using officials with less experience will pose a safety risk to players.
“That’s why we’ve been training them for the last two months and why they’re on the field now, is to make sure they’re prepared, they understand the rules,” Goodell said during a visit to Green Bay’s training camp.
Replacement officials were on the field during practice Wednesday and are expected to stay in Green Bay through Friday’s “Family Night” scrimmage. The Hall of Fame Game in Canton between the Arizona Cardinals and New Orleans Saints is Sunday.
Members of the NFL Referees Association were locked out in June after talks broke down.
“We are in discussions with them,” Goodell said. “We’ve had discussions recently. Hopefully we’ll have more discussions with them in the near future. But as you can see, we’re preparing for the season and we will have officials on the field. We hope that the officials from last season will be on the field again this year but to date, we haven’t been able to get an agreement that makes sense for both parties.”
Goodell said the main emphasis in negotiations from the league’s perspective was to find ways to improve officiating.
“We proposed an idea where we could have another 21 officials so we could help train them and have a deeper pool of officials and be able to potentially move them in and out,” Goodell said. “And that’s something that we’re discussing with the officials. But the whole issue is, how do we continue to improve the officials?”
The purpose for the proposed pool of additional officials hasn’t been clearly defined, but it could become a way for the league to promote and demote officials based on their performance.
Goodell said the league also has offered officials a pay raise as part of negotiations.
“Of course, they’re interested in compensation and benefits, we understand that,” Goodell said. “We’ve made a proposal we think is fair, with an increase. It’s five to 11 percent per official. We think we’ve been responsive on that, and hopefully we can get something done.”
Chargers back in wreck
San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews is listed as “day to day” after getting banged up in a car accident in San Diego.
Mathews told reporters he banged an elbow “a little bit” and was sore on Tuesday.
He said the accident occurred while he was driving a familiar road on his way to the team hotel after watching a movie at his home.
“It’s a freak thing that happened,” he said.
The California Highway Patrol says Mathews lost control of his BMW while entering Interstate 8 on Monday and hit another car.
Cowboys can practice
Dallas Cowboys running back Felix Jones and two other players were cleared to practice starting Friday after passing their second-chance conditioning tests.
Jones, receiver Andre Holmes and newly acquired safety Brodney Pool failed the initial conditioning test Sunday.
After two days of remedial running, the three got another chance Wednesday and passed the test.
Cardinals release ex-Brown
The Arizona Cardinals released wide receiver Stanley Arukwe, who played five games with the Browns in the past two seasons, and signed running back Thomas Clayton and guard-center Rich Ohrnberger.