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Roger Goodell Joins Referee Labor Negotiations

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell – surely concerned about the progressively loud public outcry from players and coaches about the inadequacies of the replacement referees — was involved Sunday when the league negotiators met with their counterparts from the NFL Referees Association,  sources familiar with the talks told Sports Illustrated.

According to the magazine, the negotiations that occurred Sunday in New York were done with the participation of a federal mediator. Goodell also participated in negotiations last Tuesday and Wednesday, sources told S.I.

Goodell joined the league’s lead negotiators, Bob Batterman and Jeff Pash, who met with the NFLRA’s lead negotiators, Scott Green and Mike Arnold, for several hours Sunday without reaching an agreement on a new CBA for locked out officials.

While no new face-to-face negotiations were scheduled because of “significant differences,” both sides were expected to maintain communication, still hopeful of narrowing the gap, sources said.

The NFL locked out the officials in June after their contract expired. The league has been using replacement officials, and through three weeks of the regular season there has been much criticism over the way some games are being handled.

Goodell’s participation counters much of the criticism he has received from observers who have said that the commissioner “does not care” if a labor agreement is reached. But the growing concerns about the officials could impact Goodell’s legacy if the lockout is not ended soon. Week 3 saw a litany of controversial and some downright wrong calls by officials.

It was so frustrating that Washington Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan issued a statement Monday after his actions at the end of the Redskins’ 38-31 defeat to Cincinnati.

The son of head coach Mike Shanahan issued a written statement vowing that such an incident “will never happen again.” Kyle Shanahan did not apologize in the statement, and the Redskins for the second straight day declined requests that he speak to reporters.

Shanahan was whistled for berating an official as the Redskins were attempting to drive for a tying touchdown in Sunday’s 38-31 defeat. Robert Griffin III spiked the ball with seven seconds remaining at Cincinnati’s 34-yard line, and tight end Fred Davis was called for a false start as the offense lined up for the next play.

At least one official apparently indicated — erroneously — that there would be a 10-second runoff because of the false start penalty, which would run out the clock. Cincinnati’s coaches and players along the sideline then walked onto the field, thinking the game was over.

That’s when the Redskins’ coaching staff — Kyle Shanahan in particular — went livid.

“When I overheard the official tell the head coach that the game was over after the false start penalty, I tried to explain that the game was not over,” Kyle Shanahan’s statement said. “That is what resulted in the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. I tried to get an explanation of how I could get that penalty when half of the other team was on the field as well

“I was frustrated, and in the process of trying to get some answers from the officials, I conducted myself in the wrong way. I ask our players to hold themselves to a high standard and be accountable, and I know that I’m accountable for my actions as well. I know that I need to handle those situations better in the future. My emotions got the best of me, and I know it’s my responsibility. This will never happen again.”

The replacement officials — who are handling the games while the regulars are locked out in a labor dispute with the NFL — mistakenly marked off 20 yards for the penalty, instead of the customary 15. There was also the 5-yard penalty for the false start, so the ball ended up at Washington’s 41, giving the Redskins a third-and-50, still with seven seconds remaining, essentially ending the Redskins’ chances.

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