By Matt Green
In most lockouts, most recently the NBA and NFL lockouts, for example, the two sides end up basically splitting right down the middle and compromising on the major issues and in the process making the fans wonder: why did it take them so long? Why didn’t they just compromise months ago?
However, in the case of the NFL officials, they can thank the incompetence and all around pathetic game-calling of the replacement officials for what they got done in their final negotiations with the NFL and commissioner Goodell, who finally came to his senses after that dreadful Monday Night.
As I mentioned in my article a week ago, the big issue was the pension plan for the officials, that the officials said was the reason most of them entered this line of work in the first place. For all current officials, the pension plan will remain in effect until after the 2016 season, which is four years away, and then a new benefit plan will be put into place for any new hires. In 2017, the NFL will place an annual 18 grand contribution per official for retirement, and that number will increase to 23 grand by 2019.
This next part is where we really start to see a ridiculous increase and the huge raise in benefits that the officials will receive. They received 149k per year in 2011, and 173k this season, and that number will increase to a more-than-fair 205k by 2019. And finally, the deal lasts all the way through 2019, so the officials have no reason to worry about work stoppage again anytime soon.
The evidence of the officials’ victory in this case is crazy. It’s funny to think that if Roger Goodell was in any way a good commissioner and cared anything about football or the players or the league, rather than just money, he could have saved himself a lot of it by working this thing out before the season began. For some reason, he assumed that refs that got fired from the Lingerie Football League could step into the NFL and do an adequate job. Well, he was wrong, and the regular officials cashed in on his ignorance.
Furthermore, the officials won this lockout just in terms of the flak that they will no longer have to receive from most fans. This has been evident all throughout the weekend when referees were getting standing ovations and “high fives” from fans and such. I came to the realization that these guys now have relatively pain-free jobs for the next 4 to 5 years. Sure, they will still get booed and called out and what not by the American populous, but the average football fan now knows how difficult the job really is, and how much worse it could be if these veterans weren’t calling the games. Whenever someone starts to rail on a ref for a call or lack of a call, and someone starts complaining about them, there will always be the intelligent sports fan there to say, “Yeah, but remember what it was like with the replacement refs?”
And that, to me, is the greatest victory of all for the officials. Sure, they got their money and their job security and everything else they wanted, but they got the respect of the fans in the process. I’m sure they claim they don’t care about what the fans think and that the officials are there to just “do their job”, but the expected decrease in heckling shouldn’t disappoint them a bit. Congratulations to the officials, because, based on the job they did in week 2, it’s clear that we missed them greatly, while they were taking Roger Goodell to school.
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