[Editor’s note: On July 25, Carl Johnson and Ray Anderson of the NFL office sent a memo to all chief executives, club presidents, General Managers, coaches, and P.R. directors a memo regarding the replacement officials. The full text of the memo, a copy of which PFT has obtained, appears below.]
Commencing July 26, our 2012 replacement officials will be visiting training camps to work and prepare for preseason and regular season game assignments. We have signed 136 dedicated and experienced officials (including one woman) who have been carefully screened and are committed to providing quality service to the NFL. Every official has received full medical clearance, passed a background check, completed two intensive training clinics with our NFL officiating staff, and participated in video and teleconferencing training sessions as well. They are now ready for ‘grass time’ at your training camp practices.
As discussed in our recent recent conference calls with clubs, it’s imperative that your entire organization welcomes these officials and provides them with an environment that maximizes their training opportunities and encourages their development.
During these camp visits, replacement officials will not be available to the media. We want them focused on training and not distracted by labor-related issues. Assistance from your public relations staff in this regard will be greatly appreciated.
Additionally, during camp visits replacement officials will not give the presentation to coaches and/or players regarding 2012 rules changes. That presentation will be given by Carl Johnson, David Coleman or one of our regional supervisors who will be visiting your camp at some point.
Finally, we remind you that club personnel should not engage in public discussions about the lockout. We have attached some talking points for use by owners and a separate set of talking points for use by head coaches, if necessary. If you are asked about the negotiations or the replacement officials, feel free to refer the question to our office.
Please share these expectations with your coaches, players, and operations staff so that all may contribute to the success of our official on the field in 2012.
If you have any questions or suggestions on these matters, please call either of us directly.
TALKING POINTS FOR OWNERS ON NEGOTIATIONS WITH NFL REFEREES ASSOCIATION
July 25, 2012
NFL STATEMENT ON NEGOTIATIONS WITH GAME OFFICIALS:
We have great respect for our officials and in keeping with that view have made a proposal that includes substantial increases in compensation for all game officials.
We have negotiated in good faith since last October. We accepted the union’s suggestion that we involve the Federal Mediation Service in the negotiations, and we continue to be available to meet with the NFLRA and the mediators. We remain committed to a negotiated resolution.
PROPOSAL ON COMPENSATION:
Our last proposal before the work stoppage began covered the 2012 through 2018 seasons and offered annual compensation increases of between 5 and 11 percent for each individual official.
In 2011, the average pay for NFL game officials was $149,000. Under our last proposal, that would increase to more than $189,000 by 2018.
Officials that qualify for postseason games, or are referees, would earn substantially more.
PROPOSAL ON RETIREMENT BENEFITS:
No game official will lose any vested pension benefit under our proposal and the clubs will fully fund all pension obligations. The officials would retain all the benefits that they have under the current defined benefit plan.
We have proposed to freeze the current defined benefit plan and replace it with a defined contribution/401(k) arrangement. This is the norm in the American economy today, and is in place for other league office employees as well as a growing number of clubs.
THE USE OF REPLACEMENT OFFICIALS:
We only began the process of hiring replacements when the NFLRA told us it planned to ask its members to authorize the union leadership to call a strike.
We took this step to ensure that there is no disruption to NFL games this season. There have been three training clinics to date. These experienced and high-quality officials will be prepared to work preseason games, beginning with the Pro Football Hall of Fame game on August 5.
Our goal is to maintain the highest quality of officiating for our teams, players, and fans, including proper enforcement of the playing rules and efficient management of our games.
We are confident that these game officials will enforce rules relating to player safety. Contrary to NFLRA leadership, we do not believe that players will “play dirty” or intentionally break the rules.
TALKING POINTS FOR COACHES ON NEGOTIATIONS WITH OFFICIALS
Our focus is on preparing our team for the coming season. We don’t worry about things we can’t control.
We will play by the same rules and we are confident that the official will know the rules and do their jobs.
We hope an agreement is reached soon. If not, we are looking forward to having the replacement officials in training camp, so that we can get to know them and help them prepare alongside us for the season.
(If asked) No, we don’t agree that coaches and players will play fast and loose with the rules if the regular officials are not working.