The NFL has been driving a hard bargain with the locked-out officials. Now that the replacements are looking like they need to be replaced, the locked-out officials are driving a hard bargain right back at the league.
The best evidence that the regular officials believe they have the upper hand comes from a Monday report that some are determined to sit out for months, if that’s what it takes to get the deal they want.
“This is a battle of right and wrong,” one unnamed official told Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com. “We are willing to wait for as long as it takes.”
Sorry, unnamed official, but that overstates the situation — and invites a backlash. While plenty of fans believe that the NFL is being obstinate because it can, plenty of other fans believe that the locked-out officials incorrectly assume that their income should grow at the same rate the league’s revenues are growing.
NFLRA spokesman Michael Arnold explained to PFT via email on Monday that the officials’ current proposal would have a total cost $30 million in 2012 in salary and benefits.
It’s still not clear what the precise gap is. A league source tells PFT that, when the parties met on Saturday, the NFLRA reverted to their pre-lockout position, which creates a gap of up to $70 million over the seven-year life of the deal.
If that calculation of the gap is based on the NFLRA’s representation of the officials’ position, this means the NFL is offering a total package worth as little as $20 million — and that the gap extends to as much as $10 million per year.
It could be that the parties have an incentive to overstate the divide in order to avoid external pressure on either side to close it. Regardless, it looks like the replacement officials will get their first close up on Wednesday night, whether they’re ready for it or not.