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NFL: Season Will Begin With Replacement Officials; Negotiations Still At Standstill

Replacement referee Jerry Hughes catches a football. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Replacement referee Jerry Hughes catches a football. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The NFL will open the regular season with replacement officials.

Replacements will be on the field beginning next Wednesday night when the Cowboys visit the Giants to open the season, league executive Ray Anderson told the 32 teams. Negotiations are at a standstill between the NFL and the officials’ union.

The NFL Referees Association was locked out in early June, and talks on a new collective bargaining agreement went nowhere. Replacements have been used throughout the preseason, with mixed results.

In 2001, the NFL used replacements for the first week of the regular season before a contract was finalized.

Anderson, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, told the clubs in a memo that the replacements will work “as much of the regular season as necessary,” adding that training with each crew will continue.

A request for comment from the NFLRA was not immediately answered.

Anderson said that the sides remain apart on economic issues and other matters, and called the gap considerable.

Uh-oh, does this mean major trouble for the NFL? Sound off with your thoughts and comments below…

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)