Football fans everywhere are breathing a sigh of relief as news breaks that the NFL has finally reached a deal with the referees.
The NFL reached an eight-year agreement with the NFL Referees Association on Wednesday night to end the lockout, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the refs will be back on the field starting Thursday night.
“We look forward to having the finest officials in sports back on the field, and I want to give a special thanks to NFL fans for their passion. Now it’s time to put the focus back on the teams and players where it belongs.”
Hopefully the agreement will put an end to massive ref scandals like the one between the Seahawks and the Packers Monday night.
Details of the agreement are as follows:
» The current defined benefit pension plan will remain in place for current officials through the 2016 season (or until the official earns 20 years of 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, which will have two elements: an annual league contribution made on behalf of each game official that will begin with an average of more than $18,000 per official and increase to more than $23,000 per official in 2019, and a partial match on any additional contribution that an official makes to his 401(k) account.
» Apart from their benefit package, the game officials’ compensation will increase from an average of $149,000 a year in 2011 to $173,000 in 2013, rising to $205,000 by 2019.
» Beginning with the 2013 season, the NFL will have the option of hiring a number of officials on a full-time basis to work year-round, including on the field.
» The NFL will have the option to retain additional officials for training and development purposes, and may assign those additional officials to work NFL games. The number of additional officials will be determined by the NFL.
What did you think of the ref strike? How about the controversial Packers/Seahawks call?
AP Photo/ Ted Warren