As the NFL and the NFL Referees Association continue to cross their arms and wait for the other side to blink, there’s a third party in this mess that has largely been overlooked.
The rank and file.
With only 121 officials in the locked-out bargaining unit, and amid multiple reports and suggestions that the officials want to return, the concept of majority rules could play a major role in this one.
If any 61 officials decide to come together and end the lockout, they can. And it would be naïve to think that some of the 121 aren’t trying to do precisely that.
It also would be naïve to think that some of the locked-out officials aren’t working with folks in the league office who are in position to suggest on a wink-nod basis what the terms would be if 61 or more of the locked-out officials decide to take over the process.
Would it be controversial? Sure. But it ultimately would be effective, if the goal of enough of the locked-out officials is to get back to work.
With the league and the union dug in, we’re hardly venturing onto a thin limb by predicting that’s precisely how this one will end.