Photo: Getty Images/Al Bello
The NFL seemed to score a victory over the locked out officials after week one when most agreed that the replacements weren’t that bad. And that may have helped solidify the NFL’s stance to continue the lock out.But that may have just been a result of expectations that were absurdly low. Because in week two, all hell broke loose. And a large part of that may have been because the players are learning how to take advantage the replacements.
But will the NFL cave? Not likely, as there are still several major issues to work out.
On the next few pages we will break down those issues and where each side stands…
The officials, who make between $4,000 and $8,000 per game are asking for the same raises that were outlined in the previous agreement made in 2006.
Meanwhile, the league claims they have proposed a 5-11% increase. However, the officials claim that the new pay structure amounts to just a 2.8% increase per year.
Considering how much money the NFL makes, you would think this would be a minor issue,
The NFL wants to hire more officials (28, including 7 full-time officials) to increase the quality of officiating (ironic, right?). However, the total pay the officials receive as a group would not be increased. That means more officials dividing up the same pot of salaries and benefits.
This may be the biggest reason the NFL officials are still locked out. The NFL wants to freeze the current pension plan and switch to a more common 401(k)-like retirement plan, something many corporations have been trying to do in recent years.
In speaking with the Huffington Post, Scott Green, the head of the NFL Referees Association, says the switch is unacceptable to the officials because many 'have made life-career decisions based on assuming that pension would be there.'
Commissioner Goodell responded by noting that only 10 per cent of Americans have pension that is a defined benefit in which the corporation assumes the risk. However, a lawyer for the officials cited the league's revenues and their anti-trust status as reasons that the NFL is unlike most corporations.
Daren Rovell estimated that the two sides are about $50 million apart in the total value of salaries and benefits. Another estimate puts the number at just $10 million. That works out to $62,500-$300,000 per team, per year. This would seem to be a very minor issue for a league that generated $9.5 billion in revenue in 2011.
The two sides haven't met since the season began. And there are no talks currently scheduled.
It would appear that the two sides are waiting each other out. The officials may be hoping that the backlash from players and fans will become so great that the NFL will be forced to bring them back.
And the NFL may be hoping the officials will cave and appear confident the fans won't care. One NFL VP recently said fans have 'never paid for an NFL ticket to watch someone officiate a game.' Former NFL quarterback Steve Young echoed this when he said the NFL officials don't 'affect the demand for the game.'
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