Stop me if you've heard this before. The NFL is struggling with a union of people they employ, and to facilitate the process of striking a new collective bargaining agreement, despite how well it worked the previous year (fully intended sarcasm), they accept an offer of federal mediation.
This time, it's not the players - it's the referees union.
The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service announced Thursday that the NFL and the referees' association had accepted an offer for mediators to participate in their negotiation of a new labor agreement.
The current deal expires at the end of this month and the NFL has instructed its scouting department for officials to begin preparing for the possibility that replacement officials could be used during the upcoming season if a deal is not struck.
Both sides say they are intent on reaching a deal.
Again, stop me if you've heard this before.
The biggest difference seems to be money, though I wouldn't be surprised if there were additional discussion of replay expansion, as well as fines or other punishments should officials continue to trip over themselves, as was the case for almost the entirety of last season.
Either way, if said deal is not reached, they'll turn to college, semi-pro, and some "elite NCAA officials who have retired" to fill the void. Somehow, I'm not sure I can see that working out quite as well as they'd hope.