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With Safety at Stake, NFL Players Call for End to the Referees' Lockout

Photo MattBritt00/Flickr

Any fan of the NFL who has watched the season unfold with replacement officials because the league locked out the skilled and veteran officials knows calls are being missed or called incorrectly and the replacements have a tenuous control of each game. But even worse, say the players, their safety is at stake.

In a letter to team owners urging an end to the lockout of the referees, the Executive Committee of the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) writes:

Your decision to lock out officials with more than 1,500 years of collective NFL experience has led to a deterioration of order, safety and integrity. This affirmative decision has not only resulted in poor calls, missed calls and bad game management, but the combination of those deficiencies will only continue to jeopardize player health and safety and the integrity of the game that has taken decades to build.

One of the main issues in the lockout is the league’s effort to eliminate pensions for the referees. This is the same league television networks agreed to pay $28 billion to carry the games in a contract signed late last year. Say the players:

It is lost on us as to how you allow a commissioner to cavalierly issue suspensions and fines in the name of player health and safety yet permit the wholesale removal of the officials that you trained and entrusted to maintain that very health and safety. It has been reported that the two sides are apart by approximately $60,000 per team. We note that your commissioner has fined an individual player as much in the name of “safety.” Your actions are looking more and more like simple greed.

Read the full NFLPA letter.  

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