The NFL has made it clear it is willing to begin the regular season with replacement referees and the NFLRA has fired back with a two-page press release this morning that accuses the league of skewing what is happening in negotiations.
The NFLRA claims the NFL wants to hire 21 additional officials – a total of three crews – without increasing the aggregate pay for officials. In other words, the pay for the 21 new officials would come out of the current pool, leading to a pay reduction for those involved.
The regular referees dispute the notion that the possibility of becoming full-time and the addition of extra officials are “serious issues in negotiations.” The NFLRA says the league has claimed officials would receive a 5 percent to 11 percent pay raise. Per the NFLRA, the actual pay increase would be 2.8 percent – a big difference.
“The real question is why has the NFL maintained its ‘take it or leave it’ stand and refused to change its position on the core economic issues during past 10 months of negotiations?” the statement reads. “It certainly is not because they can’t afford it. NFL revenues increased from $6.5 billion to $9.3 billion during the last contract period and are expected to increase in the near term to $12 to $14 billion.
“The difference in aggregate compensation requested by the NFLRA and offered by the NFL are insignificant compared to NFL revenues. In the 2012 season the difference is about $2.2 million and over the five-year term proposed by the NFLRA about $16.5 million in total. That breaks down to $500,000 per team over five years or $100,000 per team per year.
“This means the compensation issue could be resolved for $6,000 per game for each team. Why would the NFL jeopardize the health and safety of it players and the integrity of the game for such a modest amount?
“With the regular season fast approaching it is time for truthful and meaningful negotiations to take place.”
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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune
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