According to a letter obtained by FOXSports.com, the NFL has asked its officiating-scouting department to begin assisting the league in identifying potential replacements for the 2012 season. The move comes as the league and the NFL Referees Association have reached an impasse in labor negotiations.
It’s believed that the annual salary of NFL officials ranged from $70,000 to $140,000 under the previous labor deal. While that is a lower figure than their peers in the NBA and NHL, NFL referees work a lighter schedule, calling 20 games a year prior to the playoffs. Most NFL officials also hold full-time jobs in other fields. However, NFL referees spend countless numbers of hours each year reviewing rules and game video to stay sharp in their craft.
I still don’t understand why the NFL, which always has issues with criticism of it’s officials, both by teams and fans, won’t just make their officials full-time employees.
From where I sit, I don’t think they need to be paid more money necessarily, because the supply of willing and able referees wanting to do their job would form a long line I’d imagine. I do think the NFL officials are the best around, and I do think they should be treated as such. The NFL is a billion dollar business and whatever it would cost them in benefits for the 100 or so officials they employ would be money well spent.
It would dispel the notion that the referees aren’t trained enough or don’t work hard enough at their jobs. It wouldn’t eliminate mistakes, but perhaps it could help minimize them. The more you do something and study something the better you should become at it.
Even more frightening than games being called by part-time employees is games be officiated by “scabs.” With so much on the line, I think we all agree that would be a terrible thing for the NFL to have to deal with at the start of the season.
Nobody watches football to see the referees, but fans, players, and coaches expect to see referees do a good job, ahem, a perfect job. Roger Goodell and the NFL better not let these negotiations fail.