NFL, officials reach agreement, back on job tonight

posted at 10:01 am on September 27, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Well, that didn’t take long. Just three days after getting embarrassed on its biggest weekly stage, the NFL found a quick route to an agreement with the officials it had locked out since the beginning of the season. The men in stripes will return tonight for the Browns-Ravens game in Baltimore, which will be televised on the league’s own cable channel:

After two days of marathon negotiations — and mounting frustration among coaches, players and fans — the NFL and the referees’ union announced at midnight ET Thursday that a tentative agreement had been reached to end a lockout that began in June.

Commissioner Roger Goodell, who was at the bargaining table Tuesday and Wednesday, said the regular officials would work the Browns-Ravens game in Baltimore.

Interestingly, it looks as though the league won on its two major issues, establishing a taxi squad of officials to replace low-performing personnel, and controlling pension costs. They had to kick in more money in salaries to get those concessions, but the league got its cost containment and its flexibility on staffing (emphases mine):

The agreement hinged on working out salary, pension and retirement benefits for the officials, who are part-time employees of the league. Tentatively, it calls for their salaries to increase from an average of $149,000 a year in 2011 to $173,000 in 2013, rising to $205,000 by 2019.

Under the proposal, the current defined benefit pension plan will remain in place for current officials through the 2016 season or until the official earns 20 years of service. The defined benefit plan will then be frozen.

Retirement benefits will be provided for new hires and for all officials beginning in 2017, through a defined contribution arrangement. The annual league contribution made on behalf of each game official will begin with an average of more than $18,000 per official and increase to more than $23,000 per official in 2019.

Beginning with the 2013 season, the NFL will have the option to hire a number of officials on a full-time basis to work year round, including on the field. The NFL also will be able to retain additional officials for training and development, and can assign those officials to work games. The number of additional officials will be determined by the league.

The switch from a defined-benefit to defined-contribution system will make it much easier for the league to control costs over the next several decades. Officials got a big salary boost and a long contract — eight years, their longest ever — but the NFL now has what it wanted in control of costs and officiating. It makes one wonder why the officials held out as long as they did, although the salary bump is pretty impressive, with an average increase of $56,000 per year over seven years.

The best news is that we can now have qualified officials on the field tonight for the Browns-Ravens game, which probably hurts the Browns most. What’s the over-under on when it will become acceptable to criticize the officiating without referring to the improvement over what preceded it this season? I’ll set it at …. the two-minute warning of tonight’s first half.


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No worries. Where there are referees there will be bad calls. Enjoy the rest of the season!

22044 on September 27, 2012 at 10:03 AM

LETS GO ZEBRAS!!!

aunursa on September 27, 2012 at 10:04 AM

Great. So now there will be absolutely no errors by the officials during the NFL Season.

dirtseller on September 27, 2012 at 10:06 AM

We can finally get back to complaining about the calls the regular Refs make. What a country!

WisRich on September 27, 2012 at 10:07 AM

And our long national nightmare is over.

Now we can get back to distractions, such as the murder of our Libyan ambassador despite knowing the security situation was bad, and so he had less than normal security.

rbj on September 27, 2012 at 10:07 AM

I guess the next time the Packers lose, they won’t be able to blame the refs?

Bitter Clinger on September 27, 2012 at 10:08 AM

Too bad.

darwin on September 27, 2012 at 10:08 AM

I got pissed when they interrupted regular FNC programing with this “breaking” news. Problems involving adults playing a game for a living just doesn’t mean squat when DC is making bad calls that actually affect us in severe ways.

MechanicalBill on September 27, 2012 at 10:09 AM

Holy Crap! $173K for part-time work? You know who’s most pleased with this arrangement aren’t you? Basketball and baseball officials. They’re full-time, work way more games, and are under just as intense scrutiny. Going to be interesting come renegotiation time for those guys.

Rufus on September 27, 2012 at 10:09 AM

Having good officials is a RIGHT!!! /s

rhombus on September 27, 2012 at 10:11 AM

…maybe we can get back to the economy and foriegn affairs now?

KOOLAID2 on September 27, 2012 at 10:11 AM

And just like last week, half the teams will win and half will lose.

Jabberwock on September 27, 2012 at 10:12 AM

Working 20 Sundays a year for $173,000? I’d take some of that.

txsurveyor on September 27, 2012 at 10:13 AM

Should of had Obama call it….

Electrongod on September 27, 2012 at 10:14 AM

Blah. Same guys that screwed up a coin flip back now with thier predesposed biases. Give me the replacements any day of the week.

Rich on September 27, 2012 at 10:14 AM

Maybe the Seattle game made the NFL decide to sweeten the pot for the things they wanted. I know they had already offered a pretty big raise in the previous offers.

WHo knows, maybe the officials realized that the NFL isn’t getting off their two major points even after the debacle in Seattle, so lets ask for a little more denero before they decide they will just create a completely new ref corp and decide to live with the growing pains.

A couple of other questions – there was some argument over fulltime or contracted employee I thought. Any news?

Zomcon JEM on September 27, 2012 at 10:14 AM

So the refs wanted to go from 149k to 173 then to 205k in 2019. To work half a year…one day a week. F*ck them. Unions are so gross.

2lbsTest on September 27, 2012 at 10:14 AM

I love an argument I just heard on Los Angeles’s KFI:

People used to complain that the regular refs were incompetent, but now that they’ve seen what real incompetence looks like, they’ll cut them some slack.

HakerA on September 27, 2012 at 10:15 AM

I’m a football fan, but really couldn’t care less. Coaches and players were taking advantage of the replacements one minute, complaining about them the next…they’ll go back to doing just that with the regular ones.

changer1701 on September 27, 2012 at 10:15 AM

We can finally get back to complaining about the calls the regular Refs make. What a country!

WisRich on September 27, 2012 at 10:07 AM

I bet ya’ don’t see ref’s throwing their hats into the path of on-coming receivers.

I bet ya’ don’t see (nearly as many) pass interferience calls that just aren’t there.

I bet ya’ don’t see a team get 2 extra time-outs to end a game.

I bet ya’ don’t see refs mark off the ball on the 44 of the defender instead of the offence.

Bad calls are going to happen… it’s the ignorant ones that are so infuriating.

LtGenRob on September 27, 2012 at 10:16 AM

You know – if I was to be completely sinister – did the NFL do this to drive publicity? Yeah people complained about the reffing, but the NFL was through the first 3 weeks the number one rated show in each of its markets – first time that has happened ever.

Zomcon JEM on September 27, 2012 at 10:16 AM

sweeten the post? Basically the old guys negotiating for the refs keep thier pensions and the younger guys get screwed. nice job being the head of the association.

Rich on September 27, 2012 at 10:16 AM

I guess the next time the Packers lose, they won’t be able to blame the refs?

Bitter Clinger on September 27, 2012 at 10:08 AM

I guess the next time the Seahawks win , it won’t be with help from the… oh, wait, the Seahawks aren’t going to win.

M240H on September 27, 2012 at 10:17 AM

NFL, officials reach agreement, back on job tonight

Wide receivers and defensive backs hardest hit!

It is my opinion that these guys have taken advantage of the replacement Refs more than any one else. It will be interesting to see how the officials make calls, (on the passing plays), from here on out.

Go Niners!

Rovin on September 27, 2012 at 10:17 AM

Now that our national nightmare is over can we get back to silly things like murdered ambassadors and our horrible economy?

kagai on September 27, 2012 at 10:18 AM

panem et circenses

Skwor on September 27, 2012 at 10:20 AM

Well, thank God.

Our national nightmare is over.

Now that this serious major worst national crisis in ages has been solved, we can all sit back and relax and enjoy our wonderful lives under our Dear leader.

Obama be praised.

coldwarrior on September 27, 2012 at 10:22 AM

Now we’ll have professional mistakes, instead of semi-pro mistakes.

SouthernRoots on September 27, 2012 at 10:23 AM

The refs should have held out for the “Sell Wisconsin to China” demand they wanted.

Bishop on September 27, 2012 at 10:23 AM

sweeten the post? Basically the old guys negotiating for the refs keep thier pensions and the younger guys get screwed. nice job being the head of the association.

Rich on September 27, 2012 at 10:16 AM

Sounds a lot like the previous General Motors shareholders—that lost everything.

Rovin on September 27, 2012 at 10:23 AM

I guess the next time the Seahawks win , it won’t be with help from the… oh, wait, the Seahawks aren’t going to win.

M240H on September 27, 2012 at 10:17 AM

As a Bears fan, I couldn’t care less about the Seahags.

Bitter Clinger on September 27, 2012 at 10:25 AM

The refs should have held out for the “Sell Wisconsin to China” demand they wanted.

Bishop on September 27, 2012 at 10:23 AM

With Scott Walker firmly entrenched, Obama is working that.

Bitter Clinger on September 27, 2012 at 10:26 AM

panem et circenses

Skwor on September 27, 2012 at 10:20 AM

O’bungles Clown Troupe is kinda (prat)fallin’ down on the “bread” part of the deal, don’t ya think?

M240H on September 27, 2012 at 10:27 AM

Bad calls are going to happen… it’s the ignorant ones that are so infuriating.

LtGenRob on September 27, 2012 at 10:16 AM

Yea, I know what you mean. I much prefer competent bad calls then incompetent bad calls.

At least they’ll make the bad calls faster so a game can finish under 3 1/2 hours.

But seriously, I’m glad the national nightmare of non-unions refs is over. At least that’s what the media tells me.

I kid. I kid.

WisRich on September 27, 2012 at 10:28 AM

It will be good to see the regular refs back, if for no other reason than it removes one potential distraction and excuse point from the game – namely, the “We were robbed because the refs are incompetent!” excuse. Now it will be back to the standard “We were robbed!” excuse.

TouchdownBuddha on September 27, 2012 at 10:30 AM

Clearly the refs union cares more about preventing Brown’s wins than anything else.

gwelf on September 27, 2012 at 10:32 AM

No worries. Where there are referees there will be bad calls. Enjoy the rest of the season!

22044 on September 27, 2012 at 10:03 AM

Yeah, it’s hard for me to see what all the fuss is about.

Esthier on September 27, 2012 at 10:34 AM

I’m sure the union refs, fresh from getting a nearly-100% pay increase, will be calling offensive pass interference.

Oh wait, they didn’t call offensive pass interfeence that often before.

Steve Eggleston on September 27, 2012 at 10:35 AM

As a Bears fan, I couldn’t care less about the Seahags.

Bitter Clinger on September 27, 2012 at 10:25 AM

Well, it’s clear where the “Bitter” comes from. Skip the Vienna dog with the entire contents of the vegetable drawer on it and go for a brat with kraut and mustard- you’ll feel better.

M240H on September 27, 2012 at 10:35 AM

It will be good to see the regular refs back, if for no other reason than it removes one potential distraction and excuse point from the game – namely, the “We were robbed because the refs are incompetent!” excuse. Now it will be back to the standard “We were robbed!” excuse.

TouchdownBuddha on September 27, 2012 at 10:30 AM

Comment of the Day™, Last Call edition

Steve Eggleston on September 27, 2012 at 10:36 AM

Voter from WA State on September 27, 2012 at 10:31 AM

Keep f***ing that chicken.

M240H on September 27, 2012 at 10:42 AM

I guess the next time the Seahawks win , it won’t be with help from the… oh, wait, the Seahawks aren’t going to win.

That “win” on Monday is their Super Bowl

They suck they always have sucked and they always will suck.

Green_Bay_Packers on September 27, 2012 at 10:44 AM

Can’t wait for the first blown call by the regular refs and all the angst that will produce.

NotCoach on September 27, 2012 at 10:48 AM

Why did the owners cave to the union thugs?

nazo311 on September 27, 2012 at 10:48 AM

Bring back the real referees president, get rid of the replacement refs prez!

freedomfirst on September 27, 2012 at 10:00 AM

freedomfirst on September 27, 2012 at 10:48 AM

I knew Obama was good for something.

shick on September 27, 2012 at 10:56 AM

Can’t wait for the first blown call by the regular refs and all the angst that will produce.

Tonight, so lucky you, you’ll only have to wait a few hours.

hawkeye54 on September 27, 2012 at 11:04 AM

Why were the regular guys missed?

If you check this venue, there has never been a Super Bowl without outcome changing bad calls in hiatory.

The nature of some people…

IlikedAUH2O on September 27, 2012 at 11:07 AM

Thank God our long national nightmare is over.
.
Now the sports media and fans can go back to decrying how horrible the regular officials are within 2 weeks.
.
Next up: A growing demand that the fields and goalposts be lined with computerized lasers so that no mistakes can ever be made on measurement calls, followed by video cameras inside the footballs coordinated with GPS satellites.
.
The absolute importance of the outcomes of that most vital and holy of national institutions, the NFL, must be maintained.

Dr. Carlo Lombardi on September 27, 2012 at 11:16 AM

but the league got its cost containment and its flexibility on staffing

The NFL will have more flexibility.

pain train on September 27, 2012 at 11:22 AM

For your edification . . .
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/1438313/3.png

http://www.fieldgulls.com/2012/9/25/3410146/golden-tates-golden-catch

Voter from WA State on September 27, 2012 at 10:31 AM

Whatever – ESPN sports science broke the play down Tate didn’t have both hands on the ball until 0.6 seconds into the catch well after the players both had their butts on the ground. Tate had his right hand on M D Jennings right wrist. He clearly had 4 fingers on the ball while M D had both palms

Your a homer. Delusional and the more you bitch and whine about it the more I can tell you and your team have never won anything in your life.

The Seahags suck – they’ve always sucked and they always will suck. Enjoy your 2-1 start the miners and cards will crush you.

Green_Bay_Packers on September 27, 2012 at 11:23 AM

I can guarantee you that if GB had won the game on the exact same call . . . people would be talking about what a wonderful catch was made by the GB offensive player. There would be no question about the call. NONE!!!
Voter from WA State on September 27, 2012 at 11:14 AM

Is there such a thing as a “sore winner” ?!? WTF?

Green_Bay_Packers on September 27, 2012 at 11:24 AM

I can guarantee you that if GB had won the game on the exact same call . . . people would be talking about what a wonderful catch was made by the GB offensive player. There would be no question about the call. NONE!!!

Voter from WA State on September 27, 2012 at 11:14 AM

No. Outside Packer Nation, that play was destined to be THE BLOWN CALL no matter what either the call or the order of the teams involved because ESPiN is, by their very nation, pro-union.

Steve Eggleston on September 27, 2012 at 11:24 AM

It’s not 56k per year? That’s crazy.

It says it goes from $149 now to $205 in 2019.

That’s 56k *IN* 7 years…

preallocated on September 27, 2012 at 11:26 AM

You do, of course, realize that the replacement refs were paid off by the refs union to pull these stunts. That way they would have a much easier time of getting their demands. The replacement refs were more than happy to comply since they may be NFL refs one day and reap the benefits.

/conspiracy theory

db on September 27, 2012 at 11:27 AM

Can’t wait for the first blown call by the regular refs and all the angst that will produce.

NotCoach on September 27, 2012 at 10:48 AM

Well, you know, they were rusty from waiting around. If it weren’t for the lock-out they would have been in top form all year. But as it is, we have to expect it will take them some time to get back into the regular season playcalling awesomeness that we have come to expect.

This excuse will last at least a couple of weeks.

After that it will be that the refs are deliberately doing it to punish the NFL owners for locking them out.

Somewhat later it will be… These refs suck, they always have, and why did we ever think they were better than the replacements?

Lily on September 27, 2012 at 11:44 AM

nazo311 on September 27, 2012 at 10:48 AM

Nope – the replacement pool or bench refs have been set and the pension has a few years of life left and then it will transition.

Both of these are what the NFL wanted – the bench refs are not in the union until hired fulltime.

Zomcon JEM on September 27, 2012 at 11:45 AM

Even with Ed Hochuli’s recent NFLRA conference calls and pop quizzes, officials will still be a little rusty, so look for it to take a week or two for them to get back in their groove. Remember, refs had no spring training or preseason work, so this will be their first on-the feld work since last season.

Ward Cleaver on September 27, 2012 at 11:49 AM

So for this football season, the Zebras won. Wish I could lock in raises like that.

sadatoni on September 27, 2012 at 12:13 PM

It’s good to know that the worst game officials of any major pro sport are back on the job. Instead of watching incompetent scab workers ruin perfectly good games, we can now watch incompetent union professionals do the exact same thing. The joy…

joejm65 on September 27, 2012 at 12:19 PM

What do we complain about now?

The bad calls from the real refs, of course.

jnelchef on September 27, 2012 at 12:54 PM

What do we complain about now?

The Chicago Teachers’ Union, the NFL and the Referees’ Union… What other unions are planning to strike and be handsomely rewarded for doing so in this economy?

*TWEET!*

As a yellow flag flutters to the ground…

Fallon on September 27, 2012 at 1:34 PM

Whatever.

The lockout-strike wasn’t worth getting worked up about. It’s only a game of no consequence.

jaime on September 27, 2012 at 2:00 PM

Even their old salary, $149K per year, wasn’t bad. You work 16 regular-season games, 4 pre-season games, and maybe 4 playoff games, at about 3.5 hours per game comes out to 84 hours of work.

$149K per year for 84 hours of work comes out to $1,774 per hour. A great job if you can find it, even if a stadium full of people momentarily hate you for that last penalty flag on the home team. Plus you can have another job from February through July.

Steve Z on September 27, 2012 at 2:28 PM

This has gotta be Bill Belichick’s Fault.

FYI for those who missed it, Coach was fined (as expected) $50K by Goodell yesterday. At the same time Redskins Asst. Kyle Shanahan (Mike’s kid) was fined $25K for two separate incidents during that team’s game with the Bungles.

Del Dolemonte on September 27, 2012 at 2:55 PM

I want to see the betting line on the time where the first announcer/analyst complains that the Regular Refs are making bad calls because they are “rusty” after all that time off…

I’m putting my money on 3 minutes into the first quarter of the Thursday Night game…

Haiku Guy on September 27, 2012 at 3:45 PM

What do we complain about now?

1 Most of the complaining about the NEW GUYS was done (or driven) by the MSM.
2 The overpaid (now egregiously overpaid)union zebras were so incompetent to begin with that they necessitated the need for instant replay in the first place.
3 Egregious mistakes will continue to be made but will now be overlooked by the MSM because their UNION BOYS are back in control.

MaiDee on September 27, 2012 at 4:36 PM

I bet ya’ don’t see ref’s throwing their hats into the path of on-coming receivers.

I bet ya’ don’t see (nearly as many) pass interferience calls that just aren’t there.

I bet ya’ don’t see a team get 2 extra time-outs to end a game.

I bet ya’ don’t see refs mark off the ball on the 44 of the defender instead of the offence.

Bad calls are going to happen… it’s the ignorant ones that are so infuriating.

LtGenRob on September 27, 2012 at 10:16 AM

And I’ll bet you are wrong on every one of those points.

Point number 1: How about the bean bags they carry hitting a guy in the face and breaking his eye socket? Look up ‘Orpheus Roye’.

Point #4: I’ve seen them mark penalties from the wrong spot multiple times. Including on the opposite side of the midfield line.

blindside on September 27, 2012 at 5:46 PM

So now, can we finally recall that the lowly Seahawks’ pass rushers sacked the Packers’ QB 8 times in the first half? Held them scoreless?

That the Seahawks’ defense had to hang tough when Green Bay abandoned the pass in the 2nd half, and despite being on the field almost the entire second half, Seattle’s D still held Green Bay’s offense to FGs and one TD and then, Green Bay MISSED their two-point conversion attempt?

Did I mention this was only the Seahawks’ rookie QB’s third NFL game?

If Seattle had not played so well, no way would a blown call have been game-determining.

Oh, and by the way, where was the outrage when the regular officials blew the call that cost the Seahawks the Super Bowl? That ref later wrote an article admitting he had blown it and that the Steelers win was by virtue of his officiating error.

But before I was a Seattleite, I grew up in Boston in the 60s, when every Red Sox fan learned all about long-suffering, so whatever.

ugottabekiddingme on September 27, 2012 at 7:06 PM