NFL Players Association Calls Owners to End Officials Lockout

By Community | September 23, 2012

The NFL Players Association’s 12-member executive committee urged 32 team owners to end the league’s lockout of its veteran officials, claiming owners have failed in their responsibility to create a “safe” working environment.”

“We believe there is substantial evidence that you have failed in your obligation to provide as safe a working environment as possible,” the NFLPA wrote in the letter to 32 owners.

“Your decision to lock out officials with more than 1,500 years of collective NFLexperience has led to a deterioration of order, safety and integrity,” the letter said.

The letter is signed by the NFLPA’s 12-man executive committee headed by president and former Baltimore Ravens cornerback Domonique Foxworth and six current players, including NFPA vice presidents — New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita, Green Bay Packers center Jeff Saturday and Browns tight end Benjamin Watson.

They cited “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.”

Talks between the league and NFLRA broke off again Wednesday after two days with a substantial gap remaining over issues including the continuance of a defined pension benefit fund the NFLRA wants to have continued for its veteranofficials.

League senior vice president Ray Anderson said the league has warned all clubs to refrain from criticizing the replacement officials.

A side judge assigned to last Sunday’s New Orleans Saints game, Brian Stropolo was removed by the league for posting his allegiance to the Saints — posting pictures of himself wearing Saints gear while tailgating during a preseason game on his personal Facebook page.

“Coaches and players have complained of numerous errors and failures including: erratic and missed calls on egregious holds and hits, increased skirmishes between players and confusion about game rules,” the players wrote. “Many replacements have lost control of games due to inexperience and unfamiliarity with players and rules.

“The headlines are embarrassing: A scab working a game despite having been on the payroll of one of the teams, another who was assigned to referee a team he publicly supported on Facebook, and one who is a professional poker player when you propose even more stringent player rules on gambling.”