NFL Refs reach 7 year agreement

The NFL and the NFL Referees Association have reached a seven-year collective bargaining agreement that will run through 31 May, 2026.  The current deal was scheduled to expire in May of 2020.

The agreement was unanimously approved by the NFLRA Board of Directors and ratified by a vote of NFLRA membership earlier today.

“This agreement solidifies the working partnership between the league and officials toward the common goal of developing and training the best officials in the world,”

Said NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations TROY VINCENT. “We will continue working together to provide fans, players and coaches with officiating performance that meets the highest standards demanded by the game.”

The NFL-NFLRA CBA covers compensation and benefits issues and emphasises efforts to train and develop world-class officials.

“It was a mutual and cooperative effort that took over a year and a half, and the outcome is seven years of certainty for the league and our officials,” said NFLRA Executive Director SCOTT GREEN.  “We appreciate Troy Vincent and his staff for recognising that working together to find solutions is the best course of action to reach a long-term agreement.”

NFLRA President TONY STERATORE, in his 20th season as a game official in 2019, added:

“We see this new CBA as a partnership with the league that benefits our membership but also seeks to make our game better. We all must keep pace with the speed and skill of the players, not to mention the increased use of technology. It is good to get these negotiations behind us.”

The previous time the NFL refs tried to negotiate an agreement it resulted in the refs being locked out.

The 2012 NFL referee lockout resulted in the use of replacement officials through Week 3 of the 2012 NFL season. The lockout began in June 2012 after both sides failed to reach consensus on a collective bargaining agreement. On September 26, 2012, an agreement was reached to end the lockout after increasing criticism of the NFL and the performance of the replacement official.

The most infamous of these plays still resonates in NFL history and is known as the Fail Mary.

The Fail Mary was the final play of the game between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks that occurred on 24 September at CenturyLink Field in Seattle.  It was a nationally televised game on ESPN’s Monday Night Football, the Seahawks defeated the Packers, 14–12 in controversial fashion.

On the final play of the tightly-contested game, Seattle rookie quarterback Russell Wilson threw a Hail Mary pass into the end zone intended for wide receiver Golden Tate.  Both Tate and Packers defender M. D. Jennings got their hands on the ball while both players were still in the air and attempting to gain possession.  The two officials near the play initially gave separate signals of touchdown and touchback, before ruling the players had simultaneous possession, resulting in a Seahawks game-winning touchdown.  Prior to the catch, Tate shoved Packers cornerback Sam Shields with both hands, which the NFL later acknowledged should have drawn an offensive pass interference penalty that would have negated the touchdown and resulted in a Packers victory.  The lack of a pass interference penalty and the ruling of a touchdown via simultaneous catch were widely questioned in the aftermath of the game, drawing comments from the game’s announcers, NFL players, and the media. The NFL subsequently released a statement defending the touchdown ruling.

The controversial ending followed weeks of criticism regarding the quality of officiating by replacement officials. Two days after the game, the NFL and the NFL Referees Association announced they had reached an agreement to end the lockout.  NFL commissioner Roger Goodell acknowledged that the negative attention the game drew to the referee situation was an impetus for ending the dispute.

The old eight-year agreement covered the 2012–2019 seasons and stipulates that current officials will retain their defined-benefit plans until 2016 or until an official earns 20 years of service.  Beginning in 2017, all officials and new hires were switched to 401(k) plans with an average current league contribution of $18,000 up to an average of $23,000 by 2019. In addition, compensation for officials was increased from an average of $149,000 a year in 2011 to $173,000 in 2013, then up to $205,000 in 2019.

So far there are no details of the new agreement.