NFL, NFLRA continue their public squabble


The NFL ramped up its public pressure on the locked-out officials this week, with a string of leaks and statements aimed at:  (1) making the locked-out officials realize that the NFL is ready to go forward into the regular season without them; and (2) focusing the controversy on issues other than reported financial gap of $100,000 per team.

On Thursday morning, the NFL Referees Association responded with a four-point response to the league, followed by a fairly inflammatory “summary,” complete with at least one exclamation point.

“The difference in aggregate compensation requested by the NFLRA and offered by the NFL are insignificant compared to NFL revenues,” says the statement from the NFLRA.  “In the 2012 season the difference is about $2.2 million and over the five (5) year term proposed by the NFLRA about $16.5 million in total. That breaks down to $500,000 per team over five (5) years or $100,000 per team per year.

“This means the compensation issue could be resolved for $6,000 per game for each team!  Why would the NFL jeopardize the health and safety of it players and the integrity of the game for such a modest amount?”

So there it is.  The current gap, according to the NFLRA, works out to $6,000 per game per team.  We’re not saying that the NFL should cave on that point.  We are saying that the two sides are close enough to not justify playing Russian roulette with the integrity of the game by entrusting it to a collection of replacements that includes high-school officials and referees from the Lingerie Football League.

As to the noneconomic issues, the NFLRA confirms that the two items leaked by the league to ESPN on Monday are indeed impediments to a resolution.  The league wants to add three more crews; the NFLRA claims that those crews would be paid from the pool of money that currently pays all officials.  More importantly, the NFLRA contends that the NFL first raised the “three extra crews” issue on July 19, which if accurate would tend to suggest that the NFL shrewdly has tried to weave issues into the dispute other than the money because if it’s only about the money the NFL is more likely to be pressured to work this thing out.

The NFLRA also says that the question of full-time officials has never has been a “serious issue” in the negotiations.  And the NFLRA says that it has no opposition to full-time officials, as long as they are “fairly compensated.”

Of course, it’s impossible to work out fair compensation for full-time officials or any of the other questions if the two sides aren’t engaged in serious talks.  For now, they aren’t.  Instead, the league seems to be inclined to go full speed ahead with replacement officials, under the assumption that the locked-out officials will cry “uncle” after two missed regular-season games.

Along those lines, NFL executive V.P. of operations Ray Anderson told Mike Freeman of on Wednesday that the league expects to use replacements into the regular season.

“Are they going to be Tom Brady?  No,” Anderson said of the replacements. “But they can be a Matt Hasselbeck.”

They also could be a JaMarcus Russell.

That continues to be the problem.  Instead of using the folks who have been carefully vetted and prepared and utilized to officiate NFL games over a long period of time, the league plans to flip the switch as to a bunch of mid-level officials and hope that nothing blows up.

The NFL isn’t a laboratory experiment.  It’s the most popular and successful sports league in America.  When it comes to officiating, the game deserves better than hope.  It demands certainty.

That’s why both sides need to work together to fix this.  And that’s why the league needs to remember before driving too hard of a bargain what happened when it drove too hard of a bargain with the publisher of the ill-fated NFL Magazine.

Sometimes you can drive a bargain so hard that it drives the product into the ground.  Here’s hoping that doesn’t happen again.

28 responses to “NFL, NFLRA continue their public squabble

  1. I miss football of the 50s and 60s. Why? Not because it was a better game, it wasn’t. It was because no one was making any money.

  2. Goodell makes 20 million a year the owners signed a 39 BILLION dollar TV contract. Yet Goddell and the owners nickel and dime the men on the field every chance they get. Is his insecurity getting the best of him and he’s trying to prove he’s worth the 20 mil?

  3. Florio you’ve obviously given up all objectivity in your reporting in this matter as you’ve repeatedly trumped up the RA’s argument while attempting to deflate every single piece of news on the league’s side.

    When news is leaked the #1 way to write about it is completely assuming WHO leaked it then using that assumption to further several other assumptions as you’ve done here.

    When the league and players were facing a lockout, nearly every leak of information was obtained once the NFLPA gained that information and you NEVER (not ONCE) mentioned that since they leaked it they would absolutely (as they did do so) leak thinks in a way that would significantly benefit themselves.

    In the opposite case of what I mentioned above, when ANY leak—even when it came with strictly facts as did the recent description of what the NFL and NFLRA still had to sort out (which absolutely was breaking news) what did you do? You did the same as always, blame the ENTIRE league for what clearly could have been leaked by one or two independent individuals present which doesn’t stop you from painting it as a mass league encouraged conspiracy to leak facts.

    I’m not cheer-leading either side, but the fact is with your style of reporting heavy on assumptions (when you want them) and not when you don’t you absolutely are cheer-leading certain arguments such as this one and it absolutely destroys your credibility.

    If you want to keep doing this look forward to us seeing PFT and then especially seeing your name and instantly expecting a less credible and less unbiased piece of “reporting” (which, with the mass speculation accepted nowhere else among reputable news sources including sports reporting is barely even news often).

  4. Nfl says it cares about player safety. Yet they are gonna use refs that aren’t even in position to make the right calls to ensure player safety. In the age of billion dollar stadiums the teams won’t pay 100k a year each for refs. What a joke.

  5. See…. Now I’m starting to side with the NFL. IF the refs argument is that “You make enough so pay us” I side with the NFL. If the refs can change their stance to “We deserve a raise because of the great job we do AND the raise would only be 6 large per team per game” then I might side with the refs.

    That being said…
    DAMN NFL… your printing money pay the men.
    DAMN Refs… This is a part time gig… why should you get paid more per year for a part time gig then a lot of people get for a full time gig.

  6. Real refs = Brady
    Replacements = Hasselbeck

    Not sure about that but I know I’d be pissed if I were Matt Hasselbeck…

  7. i like how the officiating is horrible enough as it is and the nfl wants to go ahead and make it worse.

    lose-lose situation right here.

  8. $6,000 per game per team means each crew gets an additional $12,000 per game. 8 crew members per game, an additional $1,500 per game per official. Doesn’t sound like too much.

    Of course if you put it in perspective that’s $24,000 per season (16 games) on top of what they already make for part-time work.

    There are a lot of people in America making $24,000 or less for an entire year and working twice as hard. Yet this is how much of a raise these guys want. Time for the NFLRA to shut up and get on the field.

  9. For those of us who desperately want the replacement refs to disappear; who seek evolution [not devolution] of the Integrity and Competitiveness of the best Team Sport in the World…here is our Mantra: Lingerie Football League! [Where one or more of the replacement refs gained his acuity, wisdom, knowledge & experience…although I am jealous.]

  10. It is apparent that the NFL owners feel emboldened from their victory over the players in last year’s labor negotiations. Unfortunately, the owners are playing a high-stakes game of chicken against a group of highly-qualified, experienced officials to save money that for them is nothing more than pocket change. It is disgusting and shows how arrogant and entitled the current generation of NFL owners are. I miss owners like Wellington Mara (not a Giants fan, by the way), who could see the big picture.

  11. Wow, Ray Anderson should be fired for making that comment. Way to completely undermine your boss’ position, Ray. The NFL is going to continue to lose the PR battle on this issue with each passing day. Their desperate actions speak louder than Anderson’s silly quote. They certainly realize what a colossal mistake it would be to let the replacement refs officiate regular season games.

  12. I don’t know about the rest of you but I’m getting a bit tired of greedy people arguing about the split of an already huge and growing pie of revenue. This is getting ridiculous. The owners can get their 6K back by charging more for a hot dog, which they will anyway.

    Between this and the NHL nonsense, enough already.

  13. “We’re not saying they should cave on that”

    Except you are. With every post you write Mike.

    And I thought this dispute was about more than money? Guess not?

  14. “This means the compensation issue could be resolved for $6,000 per game for each team! Why would the NFL jeopardize the health and safety of it players and the integrity of the game for such a modest amount?”

    Again with the health and safety of the players. What, are all of the part-time referees full-time MD’s?

  15. “Big Money” is ruining this game and making every aspect of it, a point of controversy !
    The NFL is a beast with runaway inflation and those paying for it have not, and will not ever be able to keep up with it !

  16. This whole Ref Union thing makes me laugh. As far as I’m concerned the replacement Refs will screw up calls no more than the so called experienced Refs. In fact they will probably make less calls during the game so we fans can enjoy an actual football game instead of a penalty filled game where the Refs decide the outcome and try to figure out if the hits are too high or too low or if a player was trying to hurt someone.

  17. OK, Robert Kraft stepped up and saved the league last year while his wife lay dying of cancer. Time for another owner or two to step up and fork over $16 mil (pocket change to some of them) to save the league this year.

  18. Disgusting. Sounds like the mighty NFL is bullying the smaller kids. The problem is, nobodies bigger to bulky them and teach the lesson.

  19. if it’s so modest and insignificant, why are the refs not signing the offer they have?

  20. They should settle this gladiator style. I suggest Jeff Tripplette for the NFLRA and a pack of hungry honey badgers for the NFL.

  21. “Are they going to be Tom Brady? No,” Anderson said of the replacements. “But they can be a Matt Hasselbeck.”

    I’ll bet Matt Hasselbeck is absolutely thrilled about that comparison.

  22. Saying replacement officials will compromise efforts towards player safety is an absolute red herring. If anything I would expect them to be overly cautious knowing that it’s such a significant league and media initiative. The NFLRA has no leg to stand on here. The NFLPA won’t support them, no player is going to miss their giant game checks in support of the referees’ union and the NFL league knows that by week 8 the only people who will still give a damn are marginal sports editorial shows. The only person still talking about the replacement refs, should they still be there in November, will be Mary Carillo or a drunken Bob Ryan.

    I think we’ll see a big increase in illegal hit penalties as, again, the scabs will be particularly sensitive to player injuries and, especially in light of turnovers now being reviewed like scoring plays, these scabs spending half the game under the hood staring at the review camera or huddling after marginal plays to come to some laborious consensus.

    The games will slow to a crawl, you won’t see the start of any 4:00 game this year unless you have the Sunday Ticket and all that time wasted “trying to get the call correct” when deciding whether it’s going to be 2nd and 17 inches or 2nd and 9 inches will be filled up with Subway and Ford commercials. Exactly what the league wants.

    You’ll also get a lot of Cris Collinsworth having a hissy-fit. Or Gus Johnson applauding the replacement officials for their integrity in trying to do the right thing.

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