NFL Referee Strike Ends
The zebras are back. The NFL and the NFL Referees Association announced a deal late Wednesday that ends the officiating strike that has frustrated fans, players and team owners.
The 8 year deal puts the black-and-white ones back on the field tonight (Thursday) for the Browns vs Ravens game. After 4 months of tough negotiations, the two sides reached a wide ranging agreement. The deal covers pension plans for new and current referees.
The new deal will be put to a vote by the 121 member referees union on Friday in Dallas. If ratified, it will be the longest contract ever signed between the NFL and referees in the league’s history.
Both sides win. The NFL has wanted to hire a number of referees for training and development. The referee’s union wanted the salary and pension increases.
NFL referees have always been well paid – and now more than ever.
They will be making an average of $149,000 a year in 2012. That will rise to $173,000 next year and $205,000 in 2019. Not bad for a league with 18 regular season games.
Starting next year, the deal allows the NFL to hire a number of officials on a full-time basis to work year-round.
NFL referees are the only part-time referees in American major league sports. They work 20 days per year – 18 regular season games and 2 pre-season games.
Sure, they review hours of game film a week. But that doesn’t stop them from holding full-time careers outside of the NFL. Their NFL salary is “gravy” and their NFL pension is even sweeter – a 5 star pension for a part-time job.
Could the absurdly wealthy team owners pay them more? Certainly. But how much should they pay a bunch of part-timers who work 20 days a year?
Welcome to “major league strikes” – it’s hard to feel empathy for both sides.