The NFL has updated its clubs regarding the negotiations with locked-out game officials via a memo from general counsel Jeff Pash. It looks and feels like a press release.
Adam Schefter of ESPN has obtained the document, which addresses the recent negotiations between the two sides and addresses the areas of discrepancy that remain, from the perspective of the league.
Pash explains that, in addition to last week’s discussions, that parties met for six hours on Saturday and nine hours on Sunday. The session on Sunday involved a federal mediator, who has no specific power over the two sides but who has tried to get them to reach an agreement. Commissioner Roger Goodell participated in the weekend discussions.
The memo explains that significant gaps remain on all issues, and that the officials’ most recent proposal is “unacceptable in numerous important respects.”
Pash explains that the officials now want a shorter deal, at six years instead of seven, along with only a 10-percent reduction in their request for increased pay and a “ratification bonus” aimed in part to pay the locked-out officials for the weeks that they have missed.
And here’s the summary of the league’s position, which perhaps can best be described as being for the benefit of the media, since the clubs already should know what was being offered: “Game officials on average earned almost $150,000 in 2011. Prior to the start of the lockout, we proposed a 7-year deal that would have increased average game official’s compensation more than 7 percent to just over $161,000 in 2012, and further increase that average to more than $189,000 by 2018. In addition, we have offered a generous defined contribution retirement plan, with average contributions of $16,500 in 2012, increasing to more than $22,300 per game official by 2018. Officials also receive numerous other benefits, including severance equal to one year’s game fees and postseason bonus, a period of guaranteed ‘time off’ from the end of the season through mid-May of each year, first-class air travel, and
partial reimbursement for medical insurance for officials who do not have insurance through their other jobs.”
Perhaps the line that will raise the most eyebrows appears in the final paragraph: “We recognize that the current officials are under unprecedented scrutiny and we are committed to do all we can to help them continue to improve.”
They’re not improving. And the replay officials (who aren’t replacements) and the league supervisors (who aren’t replacements) aren’t helping.
The broader message? The league is still circling the wagons, waiting for 61 or more of the 121 locked-out officials to collectively cry “uncle” and to then find a lawyer to draw up the paperwork that will recite, in the appropriate jargon, “uncle.”