According to Pro Football Talk, the National Football League’s new deal with the National Football League Referees’ Association was made official today. This despite the fact that the union referees already worked this past Thursday’s match-up with the Baltimore Ravens and the Cleveland Browns.
Pro Football Talk cites USA Today’s Eric Prisbell in saying that 112 officials voted in favor of ratifying the new deal, while 5 officials voted against it.
Among the issues between the two sides were naturally disputes over salary, and under the new deal, official salaries will increase annually. The deal, which extends through 2019, will see a $32,000 increase in salary from now until the end of the deal, going from $173,000 to $205,000.
In addition, a pension plan for the officials was put in place, while the NFL will be able to install a developmental refereeing program.
The NFLRA’s deal with the NFL expired this past offseason, and as discussions on a new deal reached an impasse, the league locked out the officials, as they had done to the players last year when no new deal had been struck with the NFL Players’ Association.
Only in this instance, no 11th hour deal was struck to save the start of the season, as was the case for the players. For the referees, it took the entire preseason and 3 games into the regular season before talks finally turned around.
No doubt the rampant criticism of the replacement officials placed a sense of urgency on league officials and team owners to get a deal done with the union officials. Nary a game went by where some type of egregious error hadn’t been made.
But more importantly, it seemed that the replacement officials had no control over the game, and players did not respect their authority. Players admitted that they were able to coerce and intimidate officials into making calls, perhaps most often on defensive pass interference calls, which saw a steep rise under the three weeks officiated by the replacements.
It all came to a head this past Monday night when a game between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks ended on one of the most controversial calls of all time. The official ruled a last-second hail mary pass a touchdown when most of the world disagreed.
Regardless of the accuracy of the call, perhaps no game had ended in a more disputed and controversial manner since the Immaculate Reception game in 1972, and that is never good for the league’s credibility.