No talks between NFL, union as season nears

Associated Press Modified: September 3, 2012 at 6:34 pm •  Published: September 3, 2012
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NEW YORK (AP) — Officially — at least in their comments — NFL players and coaches aren't concerning themselves with refereering.

The NFL and its locked-out officials weren't talking two days before the season begins, a clear indication replacements will be on the field for Wednesday night's opener.

Doesn't matter, according to many of the guys who call the plays or carry them out.

"We're going to play the games regardless," Chargers All-Pro safety Eric Weddle said Monday.

"Everyone makes mistakes. I make mistakes. It's just the way human nature is. You can't get hard on guys that are trying to do the best they can. You've just got to deal with it.

"Each week, each game, each practice, they'll get better, so it's not a concern of ours. Regardless, we've got to go out there and execute and take it out of their hands. Let's go out and play good football, execute at a high level and then they won't be in position to throw flags and make judgment calls."

Broncos coach John Fox echoed those thoughts.

"In this game you've got to overcome a lot of things," Fox said. "You've got to overcome the other team. Sometimes you've got to overcome your own mistakes. So, officials have always been a part of it and they've never been an excuse. So, I don't care who's out there, we've got to worry about how we're playing and we'll deal with whatever they call, whether it's old guys, new guys, middle guys. Their stuff sometimes influences the game, but you've got to overcome that."

Both sides met for three days last week, but did not reach an agreement to end the three-month lockout. The replacement officials who worked the preseason games amid much criticism will handle the Cowboys at Giants opener and the other 15 games on the weekend.

"You just have to play your game. You can't even pay any attention to it now at this point," Giants receiver Victor Cruz said Monday. "You just have to go out there and trust that they are spending time in the meeting rooms and those referee rooms, reading the plays and getting the calls down."

The league and the NFL Referees Association, which covers more than 120 on-field officials, are at odds over salary, retirement benefits and operational issues. The NFL has said its offer includes annual pay increases that could earn an experienced official more than $200,000 annually by 2018. The NFLRA has disputed the value of the proposal, insisting it would ultimately reduce their compensation.

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