NFLRA release hints at $30 million in dispute

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After a failed effort at the eleventh hour to resolve a work stoppage that threatens to undermine the game of pro football by using a collection of replacement officials with too many members who aren’t ready for a stage of this magnitude, the NFL Referees Association has issued a new press release attacking the league for a “misinformation campaign.”

But an attempt at the conclusion of the release to characterize the financial portion of the dispute as trivial could backfire.  The NFLRA says that the compensation increase its members seek along with the continuation of the defined benefit pension plan (i.e., the employer invests the money and the employees always get the same amount even if the market goes to hell in a handbag) would cost “about 1/3 of 1% of its $9 billion in revenues.”

Seems small, right?  But that translates to $30 million.  And the NFLRA doesn’t explain whether that’s over the course of a year or over the length of the deal.

It’s a clumsy effort, in our view, to make the league look greedy.  Especially since a fairly limited exercise in number crunching reveals that the stuff the NFLRA wants over and above that which the NFL has offered results in a gap of $252,100 per official.

The release from the NFLRA also makes no mention of the non-economic portion of the dispute.  One source with knowledge of the situation claims that the union is resisting aggressively the effort to create a bench of backups who would replace during the season any officials who are underperforming.

“It continues to mystify any objective observer of the situation why the NFL would jeopardize the safety of its players, the integrity of the game and the quality of its product in order to continue its attack on its professional referees,” the NFLRA contends.

What’s not mystifying is that the locked-out officials apparently have decided to take full advantage of the perception/reality of replacement incompetence in order to get every penny of that 1/3 of 1% of $9 billion.  And the more they try to point the finger at the NFL for the absence of a deal, the more they risk that others will start to point the finger at them.


58 responses to “NFLRA release hints at $30 million in dispute

  1. I know this sounds odd but just do it NFL. The 30m is nothing for you and these replacement refs are so painful to watch you may lose that much in viewers anyways. Also would be a great way to show the fans you actually care about the quality of the game.

  2. Another poster here suggested giving the refs what they wanted, but having them do interviews after the games. Best idea so far. Make them accountable for bad calls and punish refs who underperform.

  3. They’ll be begging to get their cozy jobs back in 4 weeks. The NFL has all the leverage in this one. Besides, most of the refs are terrible anyway. Better to have some new blood that’ll give effort than the usual guys who’s half-assing on the job,

  4. Mike,

    I am on the side of the NFLRA (and the referees it resprents) in this matter. 30 million dollars is a ton of money to most us (including yours truely), but quite trivial considering the revenues that the league and its teams make in one year.

    Also, there is nothing wrong with the referees wanting to hold on to their defined benefit plans. While it is true that more and more employers are changing from pension plans to defined contribution plans, the NFL is unique. They are making money hand-over-fist and are arguably one of the most profitable business sectors in the US economy. In sum: they can easily afford defined-benefit plans for their officials.

    The league has to stop acting like a spoiled bully and start respecting the quality and integrity of the game. They also have to look out for the safety of their players. It will take several years for the scab refs to get anywhere near as good as the professional refs they are replacing.

  5. If it was just money, I would be backing the refs 100%. To be honest, I think the NFL would cave if it was just money. But the NFLRA won’t budge on having poor refs be replaced, and that is just not right. They have gone out of their way to talk about the “integrity of the game”, but are doing everything they can to undermine that very integrity by refusing to let their members be held accountable for poor performance. Stick to your guns on this one NFL. You are right and the NFLRA is just plain wrong!

  6. These referees want to get payed thick cheese for working 17 weeks!? GTFO, the NFL needs to stop negotiations and move forward with the replacements and make them permanent and teach the former refs a lesson of a lifetime. I’ve have watched many preseason games and honestly I see no difference in officiating, the only reason why some people are complaining is because they have been extra attentive to officiating because of the fact they’re replacements hence making themselves see “bad” calls when in fact they’re doing just as good (or bad) a job as the old refs. Screw them, people are dying and starving of hunger all over the world and they have the nerve to strike? Stomp on their necks Goodell!!

  7. The referees didn’t deserve the money they were making, not even close. The NFL should have put their foot down and asked them to take a pay cut if anything. How about only 1/3 of 1% as a pay cut as long as it isn’t much divided by each ref right?

    Go suck an egg refs. You guys aren’t close to being worth what you think you were and you aren’t a respectable group based upon how you have performed in connection with what you are asking for. I would feel warm and fuzzy inside if not one referee ever returned for a single game unless it was because a ref came crawling back at an offer for a serious pay cut.

    Go away forever and let’s move on and get the finances of this sport under control. This is step 1. Step 2 is to hammer the players at the next CBA and starting an evolution of financial justice in this game. Bring the respect back to the sport where we do this because of the game and not because it’s an opportunity to get grossly overpaid when society doesn’t have the money to afford these contracts! Wake up and pay attention to the real world people.

    And no the money shouldn’t go into the owner’s pockets either, it should go to discounted prices to the fans and higher taxes to our country….aka the places and the pockets that this money truly belongs, which is ultimately all of the underpaid fans.

  8. Did you just say “$252,100 per official.?” … If I understand, that is not only in addition to their previous pay, but above the current NFL offer?

    Please clarify, because if the NFLRA is asking for each Official to get a quarter of a Million+ raise … I’m out of their corner, they can go on an extended vacation … Forever, as far as I am concerned.

    I really hope I misunderstood that.

  9. King Carl –

    I proposed that idea years ago. That would be a system where the refs start with a ceiling and they only work themselves down. If they are so atrocious that they blow a playoff game by say making the worst call in the history of the game, well then that could be grounds to push you down to minimum wage if you are creating a massive destructive value in some way.

    That’s an extreme example of a bad call, but you get the point…a lousy mistake on a holding call might cost you a couple of bucks, but if you keep racking up the mistakes and some exceptionally large ones, then you could potentially wipe out the majority of your bonus pay that gets reconciled after the season is over.

    Yeah that’s right it’s an end of year bonus, I’m definitely not giving any of these jokers upfront money before they can prove to be competent at a professional level. You get every penny of your bonus if and only if you prove to deserve it. If you can’t feel confident that you are a competent ref, then good you don’t belong here and we want to scare you away, goodbye!!

  10. If this was just about the money I’d be on the refs side; however, they don’t want to benched and/or replaced for being horrible at their job. I’d rather have refs that can be fired for being lousy at their job, just like the coaches/players in the NFL.

  11. I’m not saying the replacement refs are as good as the regular refs. But, it seems to me that in the past years the refs acted like the game was about them. Calling every minimal violation. At least the replacement refs let the player play without every play being stopped for a foul.

  12. The replacements can only get better. Stay home and plan how your going to make the almighty NFL look greedy Mr. professional referees.

    Before long your part-time job will be a no-time job.

  13. 252,000 per official. Wow! These guys are part time employees. In the real world part timers ussually get no benefits. The regulars are only slightly better then replacements. The safety of the game does not hinge on a missed personal foul call. The integrity of the game was lost the first time Roger opened his mouth as commish. Dont see your leverage refs. Sure the league is greedy. This is America damm!t. So are you. Take your 8 grand a game to do horrible at your 4 hour a week job and shut up! $2000 an hour and still not happy.

  14. “the more they risk that others will start to point the finger at them.,
    You know what, no, people really won’t.

    The NFL really painted itself into a corner this time. The Refs have ‘real’ jobs, some of them are business people and know how to negotiate. That seems obvious, as they are squeezing the NFL right now.

    They also have income, so unlike the players the NFL can’t count on mass bankruptcies to bring them back grovelling.

    It was the NFL that locked out the refs, and then scheduled last minute negotiations thinking the refs would just jump at the first offer they gave them? Seriously? Why do the owners think they’re the only people who know business?

    I hope come Wednesday night a replacement ref botches an obvious call and let’s Jerry Jones eat crow.

    The referees WILL be back and the NFL is going to come around to that idea sooner not later.

  15. “And the more they try to point the finger at the NFL for the absence of a deal, the more they (NFLRA) risk that others will start to point the finger at them.”

    Hey, I’ve been pointing my finger at the greedy part-timers since the onset. If they really cared about the integrity of game and the safety of the players as they claim, they would’ve signed already. The salary and benefits package they already have is obscene.

  16. eriktheliberal says:Sep 2, 2012 7:46 PM

    … It will take several years for the scab refs to get anywhere near as good as the professional refs they are replacing.

    If the NFL was free to sign from the best of the NCAA Division I official pool, they’d be better than the greedy part-timers the first week out.

  17. The refs are going to learn what the players should have been taught during this latest CBA negotiation, that no matter how much money an employer makes, the EMPLOYER makes the rules and EMPLOYEES can take the terms offered or leave it. The refs don’t want to take the NFL’s offer? That’s their right. And the NFL can go find people who WILL take it and be happy for it. The NFLRA and NLFPA can both go suck eggs.

  18. I cant believe the refs are talking about the integrity of the game while saying they dont want backup refs if one does a crappy job. Doesnt that affect games too? Greedy bastards.

  19. I’m sick of hearing about these bozos.
    It’s about the game, not the officials.
    Just play the games. The officials will get it together…

  20. In a nutshell, the league is greedy and the referees have drastically over-valued their worth to the whole operation.

    No matter if it’s labor negotiations or politics, the art of reaching a compromise is lost on today’s society. It’s all about winning and crushing those with an opposing viewpoint.

  21. They’re trying to get an extra $250k per year for each official……for a part-time job…..and they want to try to argue that the NFL are the ones being greedy?

    Seriously…..screw them. Go with the replacements.

  22. With an 16 game schedule, even one blown game deciding call could have playoff implications. To protect the integrity of the sheild, every step should be taken to ensure each and every game is officiated as well as possible.

    Mr. Goodell, you get what you pay for.

  23. The NFLRA took a calculated risk and lost. They want the public on their side and it’s not going to happen. Sure, some people out there say “pay the refs” but bottom line we pay to see the players, not the refs. The NFL did not break much less bend with the players, what makes anyone think there will be a different outcome here.

    More control needs to go to an official in the booth w/review anyway. This may change how officiating is performed in the future and for the better.

    P.S. Go Ravens !!!

  24. Organize the replacements, sign a contract with them. The NFLRA would no longer be able to block NCAA Division I officials, which would open a vastly superior talent pool.

    The union has a lot of nerve to use the word “integrity.”

  25. With how dumb the new guys have looked, they obviously aren’t easy to replace. Ok, so they have a specialist job that few can do at a high level. You do usually make a lot more for that no matter what sector you’re in. The rules that they are fighting to hold them accountable? Get em NFL.

    Pretty much anyone who sucks at their job will lose it. Why not these guys?

  26. I have an idea! Since we can only change things that we can control and we’re totally against the replacemt referees; let’s boycott the 1st regular season game on Wednesday and night and trully hurt the league, so they can listen to us, the real owners of the teams.

    A paying customer.

  27. 1) If I am not mistaken most of the refs have careers besides being NFL refs, so I doubt they will be working at Foot Locker.
    2) “Let them sit. I don’t notice a difference with the replacement refs.” I call bs on that opinion. The regular refs may not be perfect, however, they are highly trained and have years of experience. The replacement refs are not even good enough to do Divisio II college games. it’s like giving the keys to a racecar to a 12 year old. Sure for a little bit they will drive straight but soon enough they will crash and burn.

  28. I see that the NFL is paying people to vote thumbs-down again. Or creating bogus accounts and doing it themselves. Sad.

  29. Ok, here’s the thing. If the NFLRA refuses to sign for much longer the NFL will completely stop trying to come to an agreement with them, keep the replacement officials, and at season-end lure the NCAA division I referees to come work in the NFL (unless of course there is some sort of “No Compete” clause in their contracts. Assuming there’s not, I say to heck with the NFLRA, bite the bullet this season and hire Division I refs to come ref in the NFL. The NCAA could not punish or fore them for crossing the proverbial picket line because the NFK would hire them permanently. Well, yes the NCAA could, but it wouldn’t matter. And yes they would most likely gladly leave the NCAA for the NFL. Also I should point out that Ed Hochuli’s son is a Division I ref, who called the USC game yesterday.

  30. Davo
    “It was the NFL that locked out the refs, and then scheduled last minute negotiations thinking the refs would just jump at the first offer they gave them?”

    Before you comment, you should know why they where locked out:
    -NLFRA was going to strike.
    -NFLRA was planning on striking after the final preseason game.
    -If the NFLRA had gone on strike at that time, it would have left the NFL in the worse position possible.
    -The NFL had to lock them out or risk not being able to train or give game experience to replacement officials while negotiations were on going.
    -If the NFL hadn’t locked them out, reached no deal, & then the NFLRA went on strike on August 31st, there definitely would have been a delay to the start of the season.
    “Did you just say “$252,100 per official.?” … If I understand, that is not only in addition to their previous pay, but above the current NFL offer?”

    I’m pretty sure that is $ amount over the lifetime the labor contract. $252k divided by 5-6 years.

  31. I am in neither’s side, but how greedy and cheap for a league who boasts to be grandiose, yet are so blatantly cheap in not paying the refs. Oh! And on top of that they want to make it a”global game”. Give me a break!

  32. We’ll see which side has leverage after the first game is played.
    Since the Browns OL can’t pass protect and the replacement refs are reluctant to call holding, Cleveland has a chance to upset the Eagles.
    But the fans in Philly are going to be really upset.
    Take the Browns with the points.

  33. So, if I’ve got the basics of this down, then the Ref’s want the same financial benefits (pensions, increased share of profits, etc.) that the players get, but without the accountability? And they have the nerve to call out the NFL’s integrity?

    For a start, people don’t pay money to see the referees referee, they pay to see the players play. The players are the ones generating this income, so of course they are entitled to a much larger portion of the profits.

    Secondly, the players are subject to injury, their jobs are physically and athletically demanding and they have to dedicate themselves to the game and their team every day of the week during the season. The refs very rarely get injured (if ever), they are only required to have minimal athleticism and referees only work for the NFL one day a week (and most of them have regular jobs that they attend to during the week).

    Thirdly, the locked-officials act as though the replacement refs have never seen a football before in their life, whereas the reality is that the replacement refs have been elevated from the same humble beginnings that the locked-out referees endured themselves. College football, High-school football, whatever – the replacements referee for the same reasons the locked-out refs do – because they love the game.

    These guys make more money in 17 weeks (plus a few for playoffs) than I do for a whole year’s worth of work, and they work ONE day a week where most people work five (at least) and they think they deserve more?

    If we’re going to have an integrity questioning session, then first up on the chopping blocks is the referees.

  34. What’s wrong with a group of people working together to get as much as they can for limited goods and services? Very few people can do what these men do–they should be paid for THAT. Not how much they work. That’s how a free market works, isn’t it? The consumers (owners) have more income and a desire for a good. The suppliers (refs) have a limited number. The price goes up. The consumer has the right to buy a different supplier’s goods…but it might not work as well.
    Or maybe you guys want the government to step in and force workers back on the job (communism).

  35. HDTV and seamless super slow-motion makes officiating off the couch quite easy. Heck even with that, how often do we watch a replay from 2 different angles and see 2 different things? This game is above and beyond all sports, do not ruin it, hire real professionals.

  36. zackattack006 says:
    Sep 2, 2012 8:51 PM
    I have an idea! Since we can only change things that we can control and we’re totally against the replacemt referees; let’s boycott the 1st regular season game on Wednesday and night and trully hurt the league, so they can listen to us, the real owners of the teams.
    A paying customer.
    There are only going to be about 60,000 paying customers at the game, plus another 10,000 or so guests of the higher paying corporate customers. The largest paying customer will be NBC who in turn will “sell” the TV viewers to their advertisers.
    NBC, and the luxury box owners at MetLife will not be boycotting anymore than the fans who paid $150 a ticket will be – and as the Sunday night game will be the highest rated show of the week, and the Wednesday opener will be the second highest, and Monday’s first game will be the most watched cable show of the week, I think the NFL will hold up just fine against that boycott.

  37. thelastpieceofcheese says:
    Sep 2, 2012 9:43 PM
    NFL referees are greedy. The NFL should fire all of them!


    How can you fire someone who doesn’t have a contract. Whenever my contract runs out with my company I no longer have a job and no longer work for that company. The contract is up. These guys do not work for NFL anymore. They might in the future but they have no rights at this time.

  38. These refs are crazy cause they are gambling everything on one day. At the end of Sunday, if no huge mistakes were made by the replacement refs, then the refs on strike will be forgotten instantly.

  39. I’d be a lot more concerned about getting the regular refs back to work pronto if the regular refs weren’t so, you know, awful…
    ESPN has shown replacement refs stuttering and stammering when annoucing a penalty. Big deal. All they need to do is brush up on their microphone skills. Problem solved.

  40. The pre-season was a clown show. These idiots couldn’t spot a ball, do a replay review correctly, or even know whether or not a half or game could end on a defensive penalty.

    It’s like the music from Bennie Hill (or for those of you too young to remember Bennie Hill, just imagine circus music) was playing in the back ground.

    I could care less if they ever settle this dispute- I only watch to be entertained, I actually understand that NFL football is not life or death- but anyone who thinks that these goof balls are 1/10th as competent as the regular refs simply doesn’t understand football.

  41. A student of the game realizes that the locked out officials have stunk for decades and get progressively worse each season. I would argue that their absence will only enhance the game! It’s mystifying how several have spoken of the game now being tainted and viewers fleeing from the game because the quality will suffer. Each week of each season in every game, NFL officials have made a mockery of the subjective call. It’s disgraceful and it needs to change. That begins by bringing in new and full time officials and expanding instant replay to include reviews of holding and pass interference calls that are made on the field. Easily the two most manipulated and game changing calls that are so flagrantly abused by officials with entrenched poor judgment skills and part time work habits.

  42. NFLRA – you guys ought to talk to the air traffic controllers from 1981. They thought they couldn’t be replaced either and found out they were wrong the hard way.

  43. The replacement guys are terrible it’s only a matter of time before they blow up big time. These officials could cost Vegas more than 30 million in one weekend with a blown call or two.

  44. Each contract is negotiated individually. 1/3 of 1% means nothing. Next thing we will have the parking lot attendants striking only asking for 1/16 of 3.2%. The refs will fold, the replacements will get better and the games will be played.

  45. Dont the striking referees have real jobs besides reffing,I know they once did,jobs like teaching school etc. or do they now make so much money they dont need a regular job anymore.if they do have real jobs then they can stay out forever and let the scab refs work games the whole season.

  46. Every fan who has ever watched a game can point to a series of blown calls by the locked out refs that effected their team. The mistakes of the replacements are only pointed out because they’re replacements. The safety of the players talk is nothing more than hyperbole.

  47. Fans give absolutely no credit to the locked out refs and the difficulty of their job. There is an obvious lack of understanding here. While it is true that mistakes are pointed out because these refs are scabs, it also true that the mistakes have never been so visible because we couldn’t see the difference before.

    The article below does a great job of breaking down the differences between the lockouts and the scabs (who by the way aren’t even Division 1 level).

  48. how do i become a ref???? i work full time for 50 k a year with only a 401k for a retirement and i have to pay weekly my health care……………..for 250k you can plan a nice retirement on your own…………go bills !!!

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