UPDATE: The coaches were pretty pissed, too. About the only people not fed up with those inept replacement refs were the Big Media TV execs thrilled that the controversies were creating buzz among viewers. Tonight the NFL says a deal was reached with the NFL Referees Association – and now the real officiators are prepared to go back to work immediately. According to news reports, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell temporarily lifted the lockout so a crew of regular officials will be in Baltimore on Thursday night to work the Ravens’ game against the Browns. The members of the officials’ union will then gather in Dallas on Saturday and are expected to vote to ratify the contract, with regular officials expected to then work Sunday’s games.
Goodell told the media: “This agreement supports long-term reforms that will make officiating better. The teams, players and fans want and deserve both consistency and quality in officiating. We look forward to having the finest officials in sports back on the field.”
Under the terms of the deal, pensions will remain in place for current officials through the 2016 season. New officials will get a 401(k)instead. The average official’s salary will rise to $173,000 in 2013 from 149,000 in 2011. Beginning in 2013, the NFL will have the option of hiring a number of full-time officials; officials currently are part-timers.
The deal comes after an unpopular lockout and chaotic 3-week regular season. The officiating farce became a fiasco during Monday night’s game between Seattle and Green Bay when 2 replacement refs standing side-by-side made opposite calls resulting in a Seattle win on a questionable touchdown.
Since then, the refereeing incompetence has become an issue in the 2012 presidential campaign. (Suddenly, anti-union candidates were complaining about the fat-cat league owners. Hilarious!) Here’s the joint statement from the NFL and NFLRA:
“Our officials will be back on the field starting tomorrow night,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “We appreciate the commitment of the NFLRA in working through the issues to reach this important agreement.”
“Our Board of Directors has unanimously approved taking this proposed CBA to the membership for a ratification vote,” said Scott Green, president of the NFLRA. “We are glad to be getting back on the field for this week’s games.”
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