Replacement officials will work the opening week of the NFL's regular season, the league announced Wednesday. Yahoo! Sports obtained a copy of a memo that Ray Anderson, the NFL's executive vice president of football operations, sent to update all 32 teams on the lockout of the NFL Referees Association.
Negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement have stalled since the early June lockout.
The memo reads:
This memo will review ourplans for the replacement officials in the regular season and the status of ourlabor negotiations with the NFL Referees Association, the labor union thatrepresents our game officials.
Regular Season Planning - In light of the current state of negotiations, wewill have replacement crews on the field when the regular season begins. Thereplacements have undergone extensive training and evaluation, and have shownsteady improvement during the preseason. We will continue the training witheach crew and they will work as much of the regular season as necessary. Thereplacement officials are dedicated and enthusiastic, have worked very hard toimprove, and have persevered despite the attacks on their qualifications andperformance. We are all grateful for their service to the NFL.
As part of our effort to support the replacement officials, we will employprocedures similar to those in effect in the postseason. We will have anofficiating supervisor from our staff in the replay booth at each game whosejob will be to help ensure correct penalty enforcement, administration of rulesnot involving fouls, operation of the game and play clocks, and gameadministration. The supervisor will be able to communicate directly with thealternate official on the sidelines. The supervisor will not be involved ineither the instant replay system or any judgment made by the officials on thefield. As in all games, the final decision will be made by the referee on thefield and no decision will be revisited or changed once the ball has beensnapped for the next play.
Status of Negotiations - Our negotiations with the game officials' union remaindeadlocked. Although we continue to be in touch with federal mediators, and areprepared to resume negotiations at any time, no discussions are currentlyscheduled.
We remain apart on economic issues, as well as on fundamental non-economicmatters. From an economic perspective, the differences involve both pay andpension. Our last offer, tendered to the union prior to the beginning of thelockout, would have given officials significant annual pay increases.Nonetheless, there remains a considerable gap between us. The officialscontinue to insist on larger overall pay increases, as well as greater amountsdevoted for non-game compensation, than we consider reasonable in light ofeconomic developments of recent years and compensation trends for other leagueand team employees.
We also continue to differ on the appropriate retirement arrangements for theofficials. The NFLRA seeks both to retain the current defined benefit pensionplan for the current staff for at least another 5-6 years, and to increase theamount of the defined benefit. We have proposed to freeze the defined benefitplan (preserving all vested benefits for all officials) and replace it with adefined contribution/401(k) arrangement - the same arrangement that is in placefor all other league employees and which 13 clubs have adopted. We have offereda defined contribution that would average $20,000 per year, while theofficials' union has proposed a substantially higher amount.
Apart from the economic issues, we have a substantial difference on operationalissues that directly affect the quality of officiating. One of our key goals inthis negotiation is to enhance our ability to recruit, train, and replaceofficials who are not performing adequately. We believe that officials shouldbe evaluated and performance issues addressed in the same way as players,coaches, club management and league staff. We have proposed several steps toaccomplish this, including having a number of full-time officials and expandingthe overall number of officials. We think these steps, along with improvementsin training and evaluation, an increased emphasis on consistency, and anenhanced ability to bring in new officials when necessary, will lead tolong-term improvements in officiating. As part of this effort, we will workwith our game officials and each of you to identify ways in which we cansupport our game officials, offer them better training, more technology andadditional resources, and thereby improve our game for years to come.
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football