It’s all good!
The NFL owners and officials have reached an agreement just in time for tonight’s contest between the Baltimore Ravens and the Cleveland Browns.
Monday night’s debacle proved to be the determining factor in the negotiation process. A little push from the President of the United States didn’t hurt either.
The locked out NFL officials will be returning to work tonight to the delight of coaches, fans and players. But not before the situation reached a tipping point on Monday night.
Officials blew an interception call that cost the Green Bay Packers their game against the Seattle Seahawks. The public outcry stretched as far as the White House.
The President reached out via Twitter on the lockout saying: “ But one thing I got to say, though, is it just me or do we have to get our regular refs back?” Obama asked WTAM’s Bill Willis (via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). “I can’t get involved with it, but I’m just expressing my point of view as a sports fan.”
NFL players have also chimed in on Twitter to express their satisfaction with the return of full-time officials.
The agreement hinged on working out pension and retirement benefits for the officials, who are part-time employees of the league. The tentative pact calls for their salaries to increase from an average of $149,000 a year in 2011 to $173,000 in 2013, rising to $205,000 by 2019.
Under the proposed deal, the current defined benefit pension plan will remain in place for current officials through the 2016 season or until the official earns 20 years’ service. The defined benefit plan will then be frozen.
Retirement benefits will be provided for new hires, and for all officials beginning in 2017, through a defined contribution arrangement. The annual league contribution made on behalf of each game official will begin with an average of more than $18,000 per official and increase to more than $23,000 per official in 2019.
Beginning with the 2013 season, the NFL will have the option to hire a number of officials on a full-time basis to work year round, including on the field. The NFL also will be able to retain additional officials for training and development, and can assign those officials to work games. The number of additional officials will be determined by the league.
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I can’t say it enough…Welcome Back!