Fans, players and coaches alike can breathe a sigh of relief. After two days of negotiations and frustrations, the NFL and the official’s union have finally come to an agreement.
Since it started in June, the lockout has caused a series of fury throughout the NFL. It’s climax hit this past Monday night when Seattle had a last-second win over Green Bay. The replacement officials gave possession of a disputed ball, and a touchdown was then gained by Seattle receiver, Golden Tate. The league acknowledged Tuesday that the Green Bay Packers should have won, but allowed the result of the game to stand.
Scott Green, president of the NFL Referees Association said, “We are glad to be getting back on the field for this week’s games” and plenty of players agree with this. Cleveland’s Josh Cribbs tweeted Thursday morning, “Never thought I would be excited for the refs to come back to work but it’s about time. It was definitely necessary!”
The union’s 121 members plan to vote Friday and Saturday in Dallas on the tentative deal. In order for it to be ratified, 51 percent of the members have to agree. The tentative pact calls for their salaries to increase from an average of $149,000 a year in 2011, to $173,000 in 2013, then rise to $205,000 by 2019. Retirement benefits will be provided for new hires, and for all officials beginning in 2017. Additionally, beginning in the 2013 season, the NFL will have the option of hiring a number of officials on a full-time basis as well as retaining additional officials for training and development.
Though this all still must be ratified, the officials are making clear that they are ready. Referee Ed Hochuli told The Associated Press in a telephone interview, “As you know, this has to be ratified and we know very little about it, but we’re excited to be back. And ready. And I think that’s the most important message– that we’re ready. Retired official Mason “Red” Cashion said, “These guys have been working every week, really since May, to get ready for the season, through conference calls, through video, through meetings of their own. And that’s something that the officials have done simply because they have enough pride in what they do that they wanted to be ready. And they are ready.”
The league is ready for them to be back too. Grab tickets here.