Commissioner Roger Goodell said the NFL recognizes the clock is ticking and time is short for the NFL Referees Association and the league to settle their differences before the 2012 regular-season opener Sept. 5.
"We're anxious to get a deal done," Goodell said at a fantasy football convention in New York City. "But it has to get done that it's going to help us for the long term. It's not a short-term issue."
THE NFL proposed making at least one official from every crew a full-timer, while adding additional crews that would sharpen performance by replacing those that don't meet performance expectations. Goodell said he wants what coaches, players and fans want -- officials who have earned the right to work the game based on performance.
Goodell estimated that regular officials would need at least a week to prepare for the season. A full schedule of Week 1 games will be played Sept. 9.
If no agreement is reached, the NFL would go into the regular season with replacement officials for the second time in 11 years. They also used replacements for Week 1 of the 2001 season.
"These officials have been trained," said Goodell. "We think they'll do a credible job."