The NFL, in a detailed memo to all teams, says replacement refs will start the regular season.
A copy of the memo can be viewed here.
Is this a ploy by the NFL to put pressure on the real game officials? Who knows. I just know that when the NFL does something like this -- put in writing to all clubs -- there's a good chance it will happen.
The memo is extensive in its detail and shows you exactly what the NFL is thinking. First, the league does believe that the replacement refs can do a solid job. Agree or disagree that's what they think.
Second, the league will employ veteran former officials upstairs as supervisors. I saw this system in Baltimore. They contact alternate officials on the sidelines to correct certain mistaken calls and help with getting future calls right.
But the big thing is that the NFL states in the memo that negotiations are still far apart particularly when it comes to retirement benefits. The memo states officials were offered a retirement contribution package that would average $20,000 a year.
This is what we know for certain. The refs and league remain far apart and it certainly looks like replacement refs will start the season.