The NFL Totally Caved To The Real Refs

baltimore ravens coach john harbaugh yelling at replacement ref

Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The NFL referee lockout is over.Looking at the details of the new agreement, it’s clear that the NFL compromised big-time in order to get a deal done in time for week four.

The league took a hard-line stance throughout this lockout, but in the end, they caved.

Here’s what the deal entails:

  • The current pension plan stays in place until 2016. The NFL originally wanted to switch over to a 401k plan immediately, but they agreed to phase it in gradually instead. The current officials gets their pension plans for the next five years, and the NFL gets its 401k in the long term.
  • The refs are getting raises. They’ll average $149,000 in 2012, $173,000 next year (a 16 per cent raise), and $205,000 by 2019.
  • The NFL can only hire 1/3 the number of new officials they wanted to. The league originally wanted to add 21 refs (three crews) to the officials pool. They ended up settling for 7 new hires.

As recently as Tuesday, the NFL was still contending that they were “firmly against making any further compromises” on any of the key issues.

But on each of the three major sticking points — retirement benefits, salary, and hiring — the NFL made concessions.

On the large scale, these concessions will cost the league a few million dollars (roughly $3.3 million) per year. That’s nothing compared to their overall revenue. But this lockout was never about serious financial issues, it was about principles.

The NFL went into the lockout thinking referees were commodities and part-time employees who shouldn’t be paid like highly skilled professionals.

Maybe they still hold that stance, but the Monday Night fiasco took away any leverage they had, and forced them to compromise to save the on-field product.

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