The NFL will open its regular season Sept. 6 with replacement officials, the NFL confirmed Wednesday.
League executive Ray Anderson sent a memo to all 32 NFL teams informing them of this, and included a message that the league will use replacements "as much as necessary."
This isn't a surprising revelation, considering replacement officials have worked all preseason games to this point, and negotiations between the NFL Referees Association and the NFL have stalled in recent weeks. The referees' union has been locked out from participation this season as part of an ongoing labor dispute not dissimilar to the one the league imposed on the NFL Players Association in 2011.
"We are not surprised, based on Ray Anderson's statements ... that the NFL was not going to reach out to us," NFLRA spokesman Michael Arnold said. "However, this is consistent with the NFL's negotiating strategy which has been 'take it or leave it and lock them out.' It now appears the NFL is willing to forego any attempt to reach a deal in the last seven days before opening night."
Reviews of the replacement officials have not been outstanding, and some players, such as Vikings P Chris Kluwe, have openly criticized them, and even questioned the safety of the players on the field under their watch.