The NFL and its “real” officials reached an agreement on a new labor contract and the league’s lockout has been lifted.
In fact, with Cleveland and Baltimore playing Thursday evening, the real officials will work that game.
The deal was reached by negotiators for the league and the officials and was approved unanimously by the zebras’ board of directors. It must still be approved by the rank-and-file, and that vote will take place on Friday in Dallas. All the officials will head for D-FW Airport for a night of meetings and they will get their assignments for Sunday.
All the replacement officials are now out of a job.
Details were slowly trickling out on the deal and it will run eight years (including 2012). The two major sticking points between the sides appear to have been split down the middle. The current pension system will stay in place for 5 more years and then be changed to a 401k plan. The officials wanted to keep the pension.
Officials got a 4 percent raise and they were guaranteed 12 game checks for 2012, and then 19 game checks in coming seasons (including pre-season games.) As for the checks they missed, the officials will divide up a pot of $2.5 million.
The league wanted to hire about two dozen officials as full-time employees and begin working them into the rotation. The officials agreed to work with a developmental squad, but they would not be guaranteed actually working NFL games at this time.
There will be a lot of spinning about who won, and who lost in the deal. But the biggest winners are the coaches and players of the NFL and fans of the league.