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Sorry about that, NFL chief says of replacements


(CNN) -- The touchdown catch that wasn't. The first touchdown interception. The inaccurate reception. Whatever you call it, don't call the controversial call by replacement refs in the Green Bay Packers-Seattle Seahwaks game a catalyst for the tentative labor deal with National Football League referees, Commissioner Roger Goodell said Thursday.

"It may have pushed the parties farther along, but we were really in intensive negotiations for the last two weeks," Goodell told reporters in a conference call Thursday to discuss the agreement, reached late Wednesday.

Goodell also said he was sorry the league felt it had to resort to the replacements, few of whom had any previous NFL officiating experience. Many were high school or low-level college officials who hold down myriad other jobs, from schoolteachers to attorneys.

At the same time, he declined to criticize the replacements despite weeks of botched calls that raised the ire of fans nationwide.


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