In the wake of a tough weekend for replacement officials -- including several high-profile confrontations between players, coaches and the referees -- several senior NFL officials made phone calls Thursday to the owners, general managers and coaches from all 32 teams in an effort to rein in on-field behavior.
"The purpose was to send a message that everyone has a responsibility on respect for the game," NFL executive vice president Ray Anderson explained by phone Thursday night. "Everyone needs to be mindful that this respect for the game has to be practiced at all times, and that the events of Monday evening, in the first half of that game, represented unacceptable behavior.
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"We're not gonna tolerate it. And we expect that everyone we talked to pass word on to everyone involved on the sideline that we expect there to be a respect for what's going on."
On potential penalties for any such behavior going forward, Anderson said: "Fines. And if it's egregious, over-the-line stuff, we could include any other penalties, like suspensions, that are normally assessed."
The NFL and NFL Referees Association, meanwhile, remain at a standstill. The parties had back-door discussions Tuesday and Wednesday that, according to sources with direct knowledge of the discussions, did not go particularly well.
Anderson said that while the replacements are in place, the league's expectations will be the same.
"Whoever the official is needs to be respected," Anderson said. "Players need to respect themselves here, and whoever's out there. I've heard the substitute-teacher analogy. This isn't a classroom. These guys are professionals, and we expect a professional football environment."
As for where that labor negotiation stands, Anderson said, "As they were the last time we spoke -- at an impasse."