Bloomberg News

NFL Said to Be Talking With Officials as Agreement May Be Close

September 26, 2012

The National Football League and its locked-out officials continued contract talks today, a person with direct knowledge of the negotiations said. ESPN reported that an agreement in principle might be near enough to have regular officials on the field this weekend.

The league, which has faced criticism as it used replacement officials from the college ranks and below for the first three weeks of the season, and the NFL Referees Association are in a dispute over pensions and performance evaluations.

Officials from the two sides met two days ago and talked until 2 a.m. yesterday, then resumed negotiations that are still going on, according to the person who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the talks are private.

Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN is reporting that enough progress has been made that the two sides are discussing the possibility of having the locked-out officials return to work for this weekend’s games.

Players, coaches and even announcers on NFL game broadcasts have criticized the replacements. The scrutiny reached new heights on Sept. 24 when the Seattle Seahawks beat the Green Bay Packers 14-12 with a last-second touchdown on a disputed end- zone catch by Golden Tate.

The NFL said it stood by the call after a review, but critics -- including U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney -- said it was time to get the replacement officials off the field. Obama called the touchdown ruling “terrible.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Curtis Eichelberger in Wilmington, Delaware at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at

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