Anyone surprised that the National Football League (NFL) and their referees have reached a deal late on September 26th. The plan is to have them referee the Thursday night game between the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens.
An NFL Spokesman tweeted the news just after 11:00 pm.
Replacement referees have worked the first three weeks of the NFL season while both sides worked to get a new labor deal done ending an impasse that began in June when the league locked out the officials and used replacements instead.
The NFL referees association (NFLRA) was seeking improved salaries, retirement benefits and other logistical issues for the part-time officials. The NFL has proposed a pension freeze and a higher 401(k) match, and it wants to hire 21 more officials to improve the quality of officiating. The union has fought that, fearing it could lead to a loss of jobs for some of the current officials, as well as a reduction in overall compensation (there are only so many ways to slice a pie).
The NFL claimed its offers have included annual pay increases that could earn an experienced official more than $200,000 US annually by 2018 however the NFLRA has disputed the value of the proposal, insisting it means an overall reduction in compensation.
I think everyone saw this deal coming after coaches, players and fans expressed frustration culminating with a controversial call at the end of Monday night’s game between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks where Seattle beat Green Bay 14-12 on a hail mary toss into the end zone on the final play. Packers safety M.D. Jennings had both hands on the ball in the end zone, and when he fell to the ground in a scrum, both Jennings and Seahawks receiver Golden Tate had their arms on the ball.
The closest official to the play, at the back of the end zone, signalled for the clock to stop, while another official at the sideline ran in and then signalled touchdown. Watching these two referees signalling different calls was comedic and caught the attention of fans and non-fans alike.
The NFL said in a statement Tuesday that the touchdown pass should not have been overturned — but acknowledged Tate should have been called for offensive pass interference before the catch. The league also said there was no indisputable evidence to reverse the call made on the field.
Then came news from Las Vegas that over a half-a-billion dollars changed hands after the blown call, and one major Vegas sportsbook called D Las Vegas is actually offering refunds over the blown call.
With all the negative press over blown calls, 4 1/2 hour games, and the lack of experience the replacements referees brought to the NFL it was only a matter of time before the referee union held the key bargaining chip and negotiations turned in their favour and a deal was struck. So now that this issue is over, it’s time to turn my attention back to the NHL lockout and the stupidity there…
- The black and white of the NFL’s refereeing fiasco (thearmchairpundits.com)