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NFL, Refs Reach Agreement

by Photo of Ross Bernhardt

The real referees will return tonight as the union and the league worked out a deal last night.

NFL, Refs Reach Agreement

After three weeks of replacement referees, the real refs will finally be back calling NFL games starting tonight.  The league and the NFLRA worked out a tentative agreement last night that will allow the referees to return to action.  The new deal (which is for eight years, the longest contract between the league and officials), still has to be ratified, but all of the structures are in place.  From SI.com:

The agreement hinged on working out pension and retirement benefits for the officials, who are part-time employees of the league. The tentative pact calls for their salaries to increase from an average of $149,000 a year in 2011 to $173,000 in 2013, rising to $205,000 by 2019.

Under the proposed deal, the current defined benefit pension plan will remain in place for current officials through the 2016 season or until the official earns 20 years' service. The defined benefit plan will then be frozen.

Retirement benefits will be provided for new hires, and for all officials beginning in 2017, through a defined contribution arrangement. The annual league contribution made on behalf of each game official will begin with an average of more than $18,000 per official and increase to more than $23,000 per official in 2019.

Beginning with the 2013 season, the NFL will have the option to hire a number of officials on a full-time basis to work year round, including on the field. The NFL also will be able to retain additional officials for training and development, and can assign those officials to work games. The number of additional officials will be determined by the league.

While news came out that said last Monday's debacle in Seattle wasn't the tipping point in negotiations, I don't see how that was the case.  A deal was reached just two days after that incident.  If that doesn't happen, we still have replacement referees.  To me, while this is great news for the league, teams, and fans, a real tangible result had to be affected for this change to occur (even though the many mistakes and errors that added up from constant mistakes also swung games, though not as directly as this).  And, as SI's Jimmy Traina expertly pointed out on Twitter, why did the replacement referees have to go when the NFL stood in favor of the call made Monday night?  It's unfair to the teams that were unfortunately impacted by the replacement refs and proof that this deal could have been reached sooner.

But, each team still has 13 games left on the season.  So what does this mean for the league, teams and fans?  To further the substitute teacher analogy that was floating around the last couple weeks, here's how I see the impact.  The substitute teachers (replacement refs) are now gone, while the real teachers (real refs) are back.  That means that classes will return to normal (game flow will likely normalize).  But just because the real teachers are back, do you think that will improve student behavior?  Of course not.  No matter how good a teacher (referee) is, there will always be troublemakers.  But the improvement is that the real teachers are better equipped to handle the misbehavior.  The real referees will be able to keep the games in control.  You won't see skirmishes like the one that took place in Atlanta between the Broncos and Falcons.  You won't see 24 penalty flags flying like last Monday night.  And you'll see proper penalty calls being made.  That's the impact that the real officials will bring.

The deal is done, and that's a good thing for everyone, but it's a deal that should never have taken this long to make.

Let CHARGED.fm get you tickets to see your favorite NFL teams this season.

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