FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) -- The NFL and its on-field officials' union are negotiating again, hoping to end the lockout that resulted in replacement officials working the preseason.
The league locked out the NFL Referees Association in early June, then hired replacements, whose work in exhibition games has been heavily criticized.
There even is some optimism surrounding Friday's talks, as Michael Arnold, lead negotiator for the officials, says in a statement: "Reports on the economic gap between the NFL and NFLRA are inaccurate."
A league spokesman says that statement is accurate.
Earlier this week, NFL executive Ray Anderson said the regular season would open with replacement officials and that the league was prepared to use them "as much ... as necessary" afterward.