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NFLRA release hints at progress in talks

Kansas City Chiefs v Green Bay Packers

GREEN BAY, WI - AUGUST 30: Referee Wayne Elliott #28 watches as the Green Bay Packers play the Kansas City Chiefs during a preseason game at Lambeau Field on August 30, 2012 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Chiefs 24-3. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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The NFL Referees Association has issued a two-line release that, while not saying much, implies plenty.

“Reports on the economic gap between the NFL and NFLRA are inaccurate,” NFLRA counsel Michael Arnold states. “Ongoing negotiations with the NFL will be conducted in a confidential and professional manner.”

The first line is curious. For all the things the league and the officials’ union disagree on, the gap in proposed pay didn’t appear to be one of them. Instead, the problem with the salary divide came from perspective.

The officials had characterized it as $100,000 per team per year. The NFL had called it $22.7 million over a seven-year deal. In the end, it’s the same amount.

The real clue comes in the second line. “Ongoing negotiations” means that there are negotiations; 24 hours ago, there weren’t. And the commitment to proceeding in a “confidential and professional manner” suggests that the two sides have agreed that, as they try to find middle ground for an agreement, there’s no reason to rattle swords.

Now, get it done. Please.