Are you an Ed Hochuli fan? Absurd question I know, but I thought I'd ask it anyway. Well, it looks like you won't see him or any of the zebra regulars this year. The league and the Referees Association can't come to terms on a new CBA. My guess is the NFLRA is asking for some pretty reasonable demands, but the league is taking a stance of "My way or the highway." No word yet that I can find that details why they can't reach a deal. Make the jump to read the league's statement on the matter.
NFL STATEMENT ON NEGOTIATIONS
WITH NFL REFEREES ASSOCIATION
Negotiations with the NFL Referees Association on a new collective bargaining agreement remain unresolved and the previous CBA has expired. Therefore, in order to ensure that there is no disruption to NFL games this season we will proceed immediately with the hiring and training of replacement officials.
Our goal is to maintain the highest quality of officiating for our teams, players, and fans, including proper enforcement of the playing rules and efficient management of our games.
Another negotiating session took place Sunday under the auspices of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. We appreciate the efforts of the FMCS and will continue to be available to the NFLRA and the FMCS to negotiate a fair resolution. We have great respect for our officials and in keeping with that view have made a proposal that includes substantial increases in compensation for all game officials.
· The NFL negotiating team is led by Jeff Pash and Ray Anderson.
· The previous agreement was for six years (2006-2011).
· Negotiations on a new CBA began last October.
· Regional training sessions for replacement officials will begin later this month.
Will this further hurt the Saints this year? I've been worried that the yellow flags might fly all too easily and frequently after the offseason the Saints have had. It's been an offseason where they've been accused of purposely trying to injure opponents, even though the game logs don't back that up. I was concerned that the zebra regulars might feel compelled to call unnecessary roughness and unsportsmanlike conduct on the slightest things that normally could go either way or just not be flagged at all. Now that newbie zebras are coming in with their lack of experience with NFL games and the faster pace of pro football, will it become even more difficult for the Saints? These newbies (whoever they may be) have been hearing for months that the Saints are dirty. Will they be even more compelled to let the yellow laundry fly whenever the Saints D takes the field? I hope not.